UPDATE: More than 40 women and a male transsexual told Lead Stories in recent days they were worried they were exposed to HIV through unprotected sex with Charlie Sheen, but none of them have yet tested positive for the virus that can lead to AIDS. Read our exclusive story here: 40 Women Claim Unprotected Sex With HIV Positive Charlie Sheen
Charlie Sheen acknowledged that he has been diagnosed as HIV positive in a live interview Tuesday with Matt Lauer on NBC's Today Show. The admission came days after tabloid reports hinted that he was hiding his HIV positive status.
"I released myself from this prison today," Sheen said.
"You know there are a lot or rumors out there right now and you would like to address them head on?" Lauer asked.
"Sure, I am here to admit that I am, in fact, HIV positive," Sheen answered. "I have to put a stop to this onslaught of this, this barrage of attacks and sub-truths and very harmful stories that are about threatening the health of so many others, which couldn't be farther from the truth."
The actor said that one of the reasons he decided to go public with his health status was to end the blackmail and payoffs he was making to keep the story under wraps. The "shakedowns" have cost him millions, he said.
His doctor sat beside him in the interview and assured Lauer the HIV has not progressed to AIDS. "Charlie does not have AIDS," Dr. Robert Huizenga said. "AIDS is a condition when the HIV virus markedly suppresses the immune system and you are susceptible to rare, difficult cancers and infections. Charlie has none of those, he is healthy."
"I am a survivor," Sheen said.
He told his ex-wife Denise Richards and he was tested when learned the diagnosis in 2011, he said. Sheen said he only told his oldest daughter Cassandra days ago because he didn't want to "burden her with the stress."
When Lauer asked Sheen if he has "knowingly, or even perhaps unknowingly, transmitted the HIV to someone else," he answered "Impossible, impossible."
Sheen said he's paid off people to stay silent about his HIV status "enough to bring it into the millions."
The interview came after widespread speculation about who the "Hollywood A-Lister" hiding his HIV status was, triggered by tabloid reports earlier in the month. Radar Online, which began the speculation with a November 2, 2015, story, published a report Monday, November 16, naming Charlie Sheen as the HIV positive actor.
Sheen said that now that he is out in the public about his HIV status, he will be an advocate for finding a cure for people with it, although he will "pick my spots carefully and respectfully."
"I'm not going to be the poster man for this, but I will not shun away from responsibilities and opportunities that drive me to help others," Sheen told Lauer.
"If there was one guy on this planet to contract this, that's going to deliver a cure, it's me," he said.
When Lauer asked if he was expecting "a barrage of lawsuits, because you've also been extremely sexually active in that period of time," Sheen said "I'm sure that's next," considering "what I've already experienced." As for possible criminal charges for not telling sex partners about his HIV status, he said "I can't sit here and protect against all of that and worry about it."
Here the full Sheen interview:
Lead Stories previously reported that we knew the name of the actor in the blind item reports, but for ethical reasons we would only publish a list of who it was not. Read We Know What 'A-list' Actor Is Hiding His HIV Status & We'll Tell You Who It Is NOT!
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