“It’s a hard three letters to absorb,” the 50-year-old actor said. “It’s a turning point in one’s life.”
The actor said that he was experiencing cluster headaches and “insane” migraines for which he was hospitalized before receiving the diagnosis. “I thought I had a brain tumor,” he said. “I thought it was over.”
The actor also said that he’s been paying “unsavory and insipid types” — Lauer called them “prostitutes” — who threatened to publicly expose his secret. The extortion payments have added up, “enough to bring it into the millions,” he said. “We’re talking about shakedowns.”
Sheen said his diagnosis led to a downward spiral in his attitude and behavior. “I was so depressed by the position I was in,” he said. “I was doing a lot of drugs, I was drinking way too much and I was making really bad decisions.”
Sheen’s marriage to Brooke Mueller ended in 2011, the same year as his diagnosis as well as a very public meltdown that led to his departure from the hit CBS sitcom “Two and a Half Men.”
But he insisted it’s “impossible” that he knowingly or unknowingly transmitted the virus to anyone else, though he admitted that he had had unprotected sex with two partners he claimed knew of his condition and were under a doctor’s care. He said he had informed each of his post-diagnosis sexual partners of his HIV status.
Despite his admission of drug use, Sheen said he had not used needles and did not know how he had contracted the virus.
The actor said he came forward to address rumors that had been swirling about him. “I have to put a stop to this onslaught, this barrage of attacks and sub-truths and very harmful and mercurial stories that are threatening the health of so many others,” he said.
Coming forward, the actor said, has removed the stigma he had previously attached to his HIV status.
Dr. Robert Huizenga, Sheen’s personal doctor who had been seeing him for five or six years, also appeared on “Today” and said the actor currently has “undetectable levels” of HIV in his blood thanks to antiretroviral drugs, which Sheen insisted he has taken on a daily basis, without fail, for the last four years.
But given the actor’s history of substance abuse, his doctor expressed real worry that Sheen would maintain his treatment over time. “We’re petrified about Charlie. We’re so, so anxious that if he was overly depressed, if he was abusing substance, he would forget these pills,” said Huizenga, an associate professor at UCLA and regular on NBC’s “The Biggest Loser.” “Magically somehow, in the midst of incredible personal mayhem, he’s managed to continue to take these medications.”
Sheen has been a tabloid staple for decades. He has entered drug rehab programs and admitted to spending more than $50,000 on prostitutes during the 1995 trial of Hollywood madam Heidi Fleiss. He has two children each with former wives Denise Richards and Brooke Mueller.