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Charlie Sheen says He has H.I.V.

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The troubled television star Charlie Sheen revealed his H.I.V.-positive status on Tuesday, saying that he had paid people upward of $10 million to keep quiet about his condition and that he wanted to put a stop “to this onslaught, this barrage of attacks and of subtruths and very harmful and mercurial stories that are about me.”

I am, in fact, H.I.V.-positive,” he said in a live interview with Matt Lauer on NBC’s “Today” show. Mr. Sheen said that part of his goal in coming forward was to put an end to the payments he was making to keep people quiet. “I think that I release myself from this prison today,” he said.

The actor said he had known about the diagnosis for about four years but did not know how he contracted the virus. At first, he said, he thought he had a brain tumor. “It is a hard three letters to absorb,” he said.

In an open letter published on “Today’s” website Tuesday, Mr. Sheen, 50, said that the diagnosis had led to “a temporary yet abysmal descent into profound substance abuse and fathomless drinking” that he called “a suicide run.”

He said that during the period he “dazedly chose (or hired) the companionship of unsavory and insipid types.”

Regardless of their saltless reputations, I always lead with condoms and honesty when it came to my condition,” he said. “Sadly, my truth soon became their treason, as a deluge of blackmail and extortion took center stage in this circus of deceit.” He did not provide specifics about the claims of extortion.

Asked by Mr. Lauer whether he was still paying some of these people, Mr. Sheen said, “Not after today, I’m not.” Mr. Sheen asserted that it was “impossible” that he had knowingly transmitted the disease to other people. He said he had disclosed his diagnosis to all of his sex partners.

Hours after the interview, one of his former girlfriends said that she learned about Mr. Sheen’s H.I.V. diagnosis “right along with everyone else.” Bree Olson, a former actress in pornographic movies, said that she was involved with Mr. Sheen for about a year and lived with him for about six months during the time after his H.I.V diagnosis. “He never said anything to me,” Ms. Olson said on Howard Stern’s SiriusXM Radio show. “I was his girlfriend. I lived with him. We were together. We had sex almost every day for a year.” Ms. Olson said that she had recently been tested for H.I.V., after hearing rumors about Mr. Sheen’s status, and that her results were negative. Mr. Sheen’s claim that he had not transmitted the disease and had disclosed his diagnosis to all of his sex partners could be problematic, crisis communications experts said.

“If he has one person come out and say: ‘I saw the interview, I went to get tested. I have H.I.V. We never had a conversation about you having H.I.V. before we had sex. I have been damaged. You are going to pay,’ that is a problem for him,” said Mike Paul, president of Reputation Doctor, a crisis and reputation management firm in New York.

Andrew D. Gilman, chief executive of CommCore Consulting, a crisis communications group, said that Mr. Sheen’s disclosure appeared to come from financial desperation and did little to repair his reputation as an erratic and irresponsible narcissist. “He was getting caught in a vise and needed to take the pressure off,” he said.

Over the years, Mr. Sheen has acknowledged extensive drug use and the hiring of prostitutes. Mr. Sheen was once the highest-paid television actor, but his personal life became the focus of global media attention in 2011 after he had a drug-fueled public meltdown, and CBS was forced to temporarily shut down production of his hit sitcom, “Two and a Half Men.”

Mr. Sheen was fired from the series, but he quickly returned with the FX comedy “Anger Management,” since canceled. Hollywood databases indicate that Mr. Sheen has no current television or movie projects.

An H.I.V. diagnosis was much more serious and often fatal decades ago, but now, while there is no cure, a regimen of antiretroviral drugs makes it a more manageable illness. Public understanding of H.I.V. has also come a long way since 1991, when the basketball star Magic Johnson disclosed his status. Since then, Mr. Johnson has backed AIDS-related efforts for the United Nations and other advocacy groups.

In a second segment on “Today,” Mr. Sheen was joined by his doctor, Robert Huizenga, an associate professor of clinical medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Dr. Huizenga said that Mr. Sheen was immediately put on treatment after he was diagnosed, and the treatment had suppressed the virus. He said that the actor did not have AIDS and was “absolutely healthy,” adding that his biggest concerns for Mr. Sheen were depression and substance abuse.

Mr. Sheen said that since he received his diagnosis he had never missed taking his medication, and that he was not taking recreational drugs but was still drinking. Asked whether he would stop drinking, Mr. Sheen said, “Perhaps the freedom of today may lead to that as well.”

Source: New York Times

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