Charlie Sheen has admitted on US television that he is living with HIV. In an interview on The Today Show, the actor revealed he was diagnosed with the illness “roughly four years ago”, adding, “it’s a hard three letters to absorb. It’s a turning point in one’s life”.
Speaking to interviewer Matt Lauer, the Two and a Half Men and Anger Management star explained that he was speaking publicly to “put a stop to this onslaught, this barrage of attacks and of sub-truths and very harmful and mercurial stories that are about threatening the health of so many others, which couldn’t be further from the truth.”
The actor and son of Martin Sheen had first thought his symptoms suggested a brain tumour after suffering headaches and migraines but said that after a “battery of tests”, doctors revealed he was HIV positive.
Sheen – who was once America’s highest paid television actor – has been the subject of intense speculation in the last 24 hours since his “revealing personal” appearance on the show was announced yesterday afternoon.
The 50-year-old first rose to fame in the 1980s thanks to a successful movie career which included Wall Street and Red Dawn before his lead role in Two and a Half Men turned him into one of television’s biggest stars.
But his struggles with drug and alcohol abuse have made headlines throughout his career, culminating in a very public meltdown in 2011 which led to his firing from the CBS sitcom, to be replaced by Ashton Kutcher. He returned to television in 2012 to star in another series, Anger Management, which ran for 100 episodes before ending last year.
Sheen, real name Carlos Irwin Estévez, has been married three times to Donna Peele, Denise Richards and Brooke Mueller whom he divorced in 2011. He has five children – a daughter with high school girlfriend Paula Profit, two daughters with Richards and twin sons with Mueller – and a granddaughter.
Speaking today, Sheen stressed it was “impossible” for him to have knowingly or unknowingly transmitted the virus, but added that paying people to keep the secret had cost him “millions”.
“What people forget is that’s money they’re taking from my children. They think it’s just me but I’ve got five kids and a granddaughter.”
Sheen’s doctor, Dr Robert Huizenga, appeared alongside the actor during his interview to confirm that his patient “does not have AIDS”.
He explained: “AIDS is a condition where the HIV virus markedly suppresses the immune system and you’re susceptible to rare, difficult cancers and infections. Charlie has none of those. He is healthy.”