A sobering dose of reality for Hollywood’s most publicly volatile leading man, Charlie Sheen has confirmed he is battling HIV with Matt Lauer on The TODAY Show. Rumors had been building about an unnamed Hollywood superstar being HIV positive, with anonymous formerlovers leaking the story to The Daily Mail.
Now, with an appearance on The TODAY Show , Sheen has confirmed that those rumors trace back to him.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. He tested positive in 2011.
The announcement will be new, but apparently not the diagnosis. For Sheen, the TODAYinterview appears to be a “coming out” of sorts that will help him address the issue publicly and manage the response.
2. His ex-wife Denise Richards knew about his diagnosis.
In the interview, Sheen stated that Richards has known he is HIV positive for years.
Breathe a sigh of relief, though, as he says she was immediately informed and tested herself after he found out.
3. He has been accused of risking infecting others with HIV.
According to an anonymous interview with The National Enquirer, a friend claimed, “Charlie thought he was indestructible and took no precautions — even though he was indulging in high-risk sex practices.” And according to The Daily Mail rumors, an anonymous porn star that slept with Sheen believes he “may have infected dozens of women.”
4. He deliberately kept his HIV diagnosis under wraps — even from his own kids.
When you consider the above allegations — as well as the whirlwind lifestyle he’s been purported to embrace — it comes as no surprise Sheen wanted to keep it on the DL.
In the interview, he stated that he only just recently broke this news to his children, saying he didn’t want to “burden them” with his diagnosis.
We just hope the infection accusations are off the mark, and that he chose to be responsible when it came to sex and other activities that could’ve infected others.
5. He paid millions of dollars for that silence.
Apparently, Sheen wanted to keep his diagnosis a secret at all costs.
In his TODAY Show interview, Sheen said many people have come forward threatening to reveal his illness to the public, and that he paid them for their silence. He called them “shakedowns” and said they were people in his inner circle. Sounds a little like extortion, no?
Sheen didn’t want to put a number on how many people he has paid to keep quiet, but he said the amount of cash he shelled out is “into the millions.”
He said that after the announcement, he will no longer continue paying these people.
6. He claims he was always upfront about his diagnosis and used condoms.
We sure hope that is the case. He says he told all of his partners with “no exceptions” and it is “impossible” that he transmitted it to anyone.
Although I suppose we can only take his word for it.
7. A prostitute took a photo of his HIV medication and threatened to sell it to tabloids.
Just … wow.
8. He cites depression for his risky lifestyle of prostitutes and drug use.
Although he’s not sure exactly how he contracted HIV, he believes it was not from sharing syringes.
He claimed that his “tiger blood” public streak was due to a “roid rage” and not necessarily a reaction to his diagnosis.
The fact that he doesn’t know how he contracted the disease likely speaks to the extent of his partying and risky behavior.
9. He’s worried his career will be defined by his illness.
One insider told The Sun that Sheen was “distraught about the possibility of the illness becoming a defining quality of his career.”
10. He’s currently undergoing treatment.
A top Hollywood publicist claims to have been approached by Sheen’s camp to help manage the PR side of the diagnosis. He says that Sheen is currently undergoing treatment and that “a lot of people in his life know about it.”
Sheen has now confirmed that with his TODAY Show interview
11. HIV/AIDS is no longer a death sentence.
The silver lining for Sheen.
Despite the stigma that remains, HIV treatment has made great strides since in the recent decades. While it still requires a lifetime of antiviral medication and other procedures, it’s much more of a “manageable” disease in countries like America, where access to cutting-edge care is available.
Think of it like Diabetes. It will always be there, but with some work patients are able to carry out relatively normal lives.
Visit amfAR.org to learn more about HIV/AIDS and see how you can contribute to global research and advocacy.