NEW YORK (AP,CNN) — Former “Two and a Half Men” star Charlie Sheen says he has the HIV virus.
In an interview Tuesday on NBC’s “Today,” the 50-year-old actor said he tested positive for the virus that causes AIDS about four years ago, but that, thanks to a rigorous drug regimen, he’s healthy.
“I’m here to admit that I am in fact HIV-positive,” Sheen told NBC’s Matt Lauer. “And I have to put a stop to this onslaught, this barrage of attacks and of sub-truths and very harmful and mercurial stories that are about the (alleged) threatening the health of so many others, which couldn’t be farther from the truth.”
“It’s a hard three letters to absorb,” he said. “It’s a turning point in one’s life.”
Drug and alcohol use have marred Sheen’s personal and professional life in recent years. He was kicked off CBS’ “Two and a Half Men” in 2011 after an explosive meltdown that included calling the show’s producer “a contaminated little maggot.”
His escapades have also included the revelation that he spent more than $50,000 as a client of “Hollywood Madam” Heidi Fleiss’ prostitution ring.
“Two and a Half Men” debuted in 2003 and starred Sheen as womanizing bachelor Charlie Harper. It made Sheen one of TV’s highest-paid actors and at its peak was TV’s most-watched sitcom.
He said he the diagnosis came after he suffered a series of migraines.
“After a battery of tests … they walked in the room and said, ‘Boom, here’s what’s going on,’ ” Sheen said.
When asked by co-host Matt Lauer if he had transmitted the disease to others, he declared, “Impossible. Impossible,” and insisted he had informed every sexual partner of his condition beforehand.
Since his diagnosis he has had unprotected sex with only two partners, he said, adding, with no further clarification, “They were under the care of my doctor and they were completely warned ahead of time.”
He said one reason for going public with his condition was to put a stop to shakedowns from prostitutes and others who threatened to out him. He said one prostitute took a photo of the HIV-related drugs in his medicine cabinet and threatened to sell that photo to the tabloids.
He said he had paid “enough to bring it into the millions” — perhaps as much as $10 million — to buy their silence and now was seeking to “put a stop to this barrage of attacks and sub-truths.”
“Are you still paying these people?” Lauer asked him.
“Not after today I’m not,” said Sheen, who during his appearance appeared jumpy and spoke in stammering bursts.
He did not address when, and by whom, he may have been infected.