After Charlie Sheen revealed to Matt Lauer on the Today show on Tuesday, Nov. 17, that he's HIV-positive, the actor penned an open letter for the morning program's website, detailing his struggle.
"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," the Two and a Half Men actor, 50, wrote. "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."
Sheen wrote that the news was a "mule kick" to his being. "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," he recalled. Sheen sought care under leading infectious diseases specialist Dr. Robert Huizenga.
"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," Sheen wrote. "I wish my story had ended there. Unfortunately, for my family and myself, it had only just begun."
The Golden Globe winner detailed how his diagnosis compelled him to spiral into a world of drug and alcohol abuse, which led to other behavioral issues, including sleeping with prostitutes, and more. As fans remember, the actor's breakdown in 2011 led to him being fired from his longtime role on Two and a Half Men.
"The personal disbelief, karmic confusion, shame and anger lead to a temporary yet abysmal descent into profound substance abuse and fathomless drinking. It was a suicide run," the dad of five confessed. "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."
Sheen wrote that he sought the company of "unsavory and insipid types," but still claimed to have always disclosed his condition and used condoms. "Sadly, my truth soon became their treason, as a deluge of blackmail and extortion took center stage in this circus of deceit," he wrote.
Sheen boldly proclaimed in his concluding statement that those days were long gone. "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," he shared. "My partying days are behind me. My philanthropic days are ahead of me . . . I've served my time under pressure; I now embrace the courage, and the grace. Love and peace, Charlie Sheen."
Sheen confirmed on the Today show that his ex-wives Brooke Mueller and Denise Richards were aware of his diagnosis after he first learned he was HIV-positive in 2011. Mueller's rep told Us Weekly on Tuesday that his client and their 6-year-old twin boys with Sheen were not infected. Sheen also confirmed to Lauer on Tuesday that Richards and his two young daughters were negative for HIV.
Sign up now for the Us Weekly newsletter to get breaking celebrity news, hot pics and more delivered straight to your inbox!