Charlie Sheen Speaks Out

“I’m here to admit that I am, in fact, HIV positive.

I have to put a stop to this onslaught, this barrage of attacks and of sub-truths and very harmful and mercurial stories that are about me, threatening the health of so many others that couldn’t be further from the truth.”

So began the Today show interview of Charlie Sheen.

Here’s the important points from the interview:

  1. Sheen was diagnosed with HIV about 4 years ago.
  2. He sought medical attention after suffering a series of “crushing headaches.” Sheen thought he might have a brain tumor.
  3. He has been on anti-retroviral medications (4 pills/day) since his diagnosis and has “not missed a day” of treatment since then.
  4. He has notified all sexual contacts, including his ex-wives, that he is HIV+.
  5. He is coming forth now because he has been “shaken down” by people he trusted who have been extorting him for money to keep his HIV status private.
  6. He has paid an amount on the order of $10 million for silence, and he can’t go on like this.

An interview with Sheen’s physician, Dr. Robert Huizenga, followed the initial interview.
In this part of the interview, Dr. Huizenga reiterated that Charlie is currently healthy and that the HIV virus is undetectable in his blood at the present time. He also pointed out that although the ability of Sheen to transmit the virus to a sexual partner is not zero, with protection, it is “incredibly rare.”

Dr. Huizenga says his greater fear is that his past struggles with substance abuse and depression will have a greater impact on his health:

“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 and that’s been an incredible worry,” he said. However, he said Sheen has been vigilant about his regiment.

“Magically, somehow in the midst of incredible personal mayhem, he’s managed to continue to take these medications.”

By the end of the interview, Sheen said he was incredibly relieved to have the information out in the public, and that he appreciates the support he is receiving. He vows to use the opportunity to speak out on behalf of others with the disease, although he doesn’t want to be the “poster child” for the condition.

Michele R. Berman, M.D. was Clinical Director of The Pediatric Center, a private practice on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. from 1988-2000, and was named Outstanding Washington Physician by Washingtonian Magazine in 1999. She was a medical internet pioneer having established one of the first medical practice websites in 1997. Dr. Berman also authored a monthly column for Washington Parent Magazine.

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