This is an archival story that predates current editorial management.
This archival content was written, edited, and published prior to LAist's acquisition by its current owner, Southern California Public Radio ("SCPR"). Content, such as language choice and subject matter, in archival articles therefore may not align with SCPR's current editorial standards. To learn more about those standards and why we make this distinction, please click here.
Charlie Sheen: "I Am In Fact HIV Positive"
In a live interview on the Today Show this morning, actor Charlie Sheen announced, "I'm here to admit that I am in fact HIV Positive. I have a responsibility now to better myself and help a lot of other people."
The movie and TV star's appearance comes after many rumors about a Hollywood star with HIV. The National Enquirer published a story yesterday, naming Sheen and suggesting he "potentially spread the devastating virus to dozens of unsuspecting women." Further, the Enquirer alleged that Sheen has been paying off sex partners.
This morning, Sheen said he was being extorted and that he hadn't knowingly infected anyone since finding out he was HIV positive four years ago. At first, when he was afflicted with migraines and was sweating his bedsheets, he thought he had a brain tumor:
He told Lauer that he's not paying anyone off after today. "That is money taken away from my kids," Sheen said. "I think I release myself from this prison today."
The one-time heartthrob-turned-punchline has weathered a long public meltdown that began five years ago, when he was arrested after locking a prostitute in a hotel suite closet at New York City's Plaza Hotel in October 2010. Months later, he fought with Chuck Lorre, the producer of his highly successful sitcom, Two and a Half Men, and mused about having an "army of assassins" and "poetry at my fingertips most of the time and this includes naps. I’m an F-18 and I will destroy you in the air and I will deploy my ordnance to the ground."
Sheen was ultimately fired from the show, losing his $1.8 million per episode paycheck. But he rebounded in his own eccentric way, launching catchphrases—"winning" and "Tiger Blood"—and a "Violent Torpedo of Truth" performance that was a "long, terrifically unfunny and sustained paranoid rant."
Dr. Robert Huizenga, a UCLA medical school professor and an expert on NBC's The Biggest Loser, said, "Charlie does not have AIDS," and Sheen said he was taking four pills a day.
"I can only sit here and tell you my truth," Sheen said. He also said his ex-wives, Denise Richards and Brooke Mueller, knew of his diagnosis.
Sheen was also let his characteristic confidence come through:
Update: Sheen's publicist released an "open letter" from both Sheen and Dr. Huizenga.
An Open Letter from Charlie Sheen and Statement from his Physician
Roughly four years ago, I suddenly found myself in the throws of a seismic and debilitating three-day cluster-migraine like headache. I was emergently hospitalized with what I believed to be a brain tumor or perhaps some unknown pathology. I was partially correct. Following a battery of endless tests, that included a hideous spinal tap, it was sadly and shockingly revealed to me that I was, in fact, positive for HIV.
The news was a ‘mule kick’ to my soul. Those impossible words I absorbed and then tried to convince myself, that I was stuck, suspended, or even stranded inside some kind of alternate reality or nightmare, were to the absolute contrary. I was awake. It was true… reality.
Under the brilliant and perfect care of Dr. Robert Huizenga as well as “the” leading infectious disease expert in the known universe, I began a rigorous and intensive treatment program. Not missing a beat, a med dose, or one shred of guidance, quickly my viral loads became undetectable. Like every other challenge in my life, again, I was victorious and kicking this disease’s ass. I wish my story had ended there. Unfortunately, for my family and myself, it had only just begun.
The personal disbelief, karmic confusion, shame and anger lead to a temporary yet abysmal decent into profound substance abuse and fathomless drinking. It was a suicide run. Problem was, I’d forgotten that I’m too tough for such a cowardly departure. Yet, despite this loathsome and horrific odyssey, I was vigilant with my anti-viral program.
My medical team could only shake their heads as each and every blood test returned levels revealing a state of remission. Even though I might have been trying to kill myself, one thing was radically evident; the disease was not.
In and around this perplexing and difficult time, I dazedly chose (or hired) the companionship of unsavory and insipid types. Regardless of their salt-less reputations, I always lead with condoms and honesty when it came to my condition. Sadly, my truth soon became their treason, as a deluge of blackmail and extortion took center stage in this circus of deceit.
To date, I have paid out countless millions to these desperate charlatans.
Locked in a vacuum of fear, I chose to allow their threats and skullduggery to vastly deplete future assets from my children, while my “secret” sat entombed in their hives of folly. (or so I thought)
News Flash: This ends today. I’m claiming back my freedom. The scales of justice will swiftly and righteously rebalance themselves.
In conclusion, I accept this condition not as a curse or scourge, but rather as an opportunity and a challenge. An opportunity to help others. A challenge to better myself.
Every day, of every month, of every year, countless individuals go to work, man their stations, fulfill their professional obligations with a host of disabilities. Diseases, imperfections, hurdles, detours. These maladies range from Lupus to Cancer, from paralysis to blindness, from Diabetes to Obesity. “Treated,” HIV is no different.
My partying days are behind me. My philanthropic days are ahead of me.
Earnest Hemingway once wrote:
“Courage is grace under pressure.”
I’ve served my time under pressure; I now embrace the courage, and the grace.
Love and Peace,
Statement from Dr. Robert Huizenga
Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine, UCLA
Four years ago, Charlie Sheen came to see me with an upper viral infection followed by joint aches, swallowing complaints and then progressive severe headaches. During this infection, his HIV tests "seroconverted" (acutely changed) from negative to positive. He was immediately placed on four antiretroviral drugs and his HIV viral blood levels thankfully dropped to undetectable. He has tolerated his antiretroviral cocktail and by faithfully complying with the daily pills, his viral HIV load has remained consistently undetectable.
The urgent dilemma that both Charlie and I recognize is that there are 1.2 million other Americans currently living with this diagnosis. Shockingly, up to 20% of these individuals are unaware of their HIV status and sadly 60% are not adequately being treated. This leads to 50,000 new diagnosis and 18,000 HIV deaths yearly in this country.
I anticipate Charlie can save many more lives coming forward with his revelation then I could ever have aspired to as a doctor.
With Charlie remaining dedicated to his treatment regimen, I expect the HIV will only minimally - if at all - affect his predicted life expectancy.