Charlie Sheen has been trying to keep secret his HIV status for four years. After a series of headaches and a hospitalization, Sheen thought he had a brain tumor. Instead, doctors told him he was HIV-positive. "It's a hard three letters to absorb," he said this morning on the Today show.
Sheen went into a depression as those around him began to extort money from him. He says he's paid "millions" of dollars to keep people quiet. "That's money they're taking from my children," he told Matt Lauer in an eight-minute live interview this morning followed by two more interviews, including one with his doctor, later in the program.
"Is it true that on at least one occasion you had a prostitute come over to your house who, after a sexual encounter, went into your bathroom and with a cellphone took an image of your antiretroviral medications?" Lauer asked.
Sheen said, "Yes." He added that as of today, he's finished paying others to keep his secret. Lauer then got very personal:
Lauer: Have you knowingly or even perhaps unknowingly transmitted the HIV virus to someone else since your diagnosis?
Sheen: Impossible, impossible.
Lauer: We're going to talk to your doctor in a second. Have you had unprotected sex on any occasion since your diagnosis?
Sheen: Yes, but the two people that I did that with were under the care of my doctor, and they were completely warned ahead of time.
Sheen said the diagnosis came "on the heels" of his 2011 very public meltdown. He said he no longer feels the stigma of being HIV-positive. In a separate interview, his doctor said the virus is suppressed and that Sheen does not have AIDS.
At the start of the interview, Sheen thanked the NBC News team for their "compassion" in telling his story.
"Let me say, first and foremost, your producing team have been awesome, as have you. Absolute compassion, and it just means the world to me," Sheen said.
This story was first published in Adweek's TVNewser.