Charlie Sheen is confirming he is HIV positive as he appears on NBC’s Today show.
“I am here to admit that I am HIV positive,” the former Two And A Half Men star said.
The news bring to an end days of intense media speculation.
“I have to put a stop to this onslaught this barrage of attacks and of sub truths,” Charlie Sheen said, adding he was diagnosed four years ago.
Charlie Sheen revealed he had paid “enough to take it into the millions” to keep people from going public about his illness over the years.
The said when he revealed his HIV status to friends “the truth became treason”, leading to “blackmail and extortion and a circle of deceit”.
“I trusted them, they were in my inner circle and thought they could be helpful. My trust turned to their treason,” Charlie Sheen said, adding a prostitute took a picture of his medication and threatened to sell it to newspapers.
“I think I release myself from this prison today,” he said.
Charlie Sheen admitted that his use of drink and drugs was a “bad decision” but said it was “impossible” that he would have passed HIV on to anyone else.
He said he does not feel any stigma attached to the illness.
“I have the responsibility to better myself and help a lot of other people. With what we’re doing today, others may come up and say thanks Charlie, thanks for kicking the door open.”
Speaking about the time prior to his diagnosis, Charlie Sheen said: “It started with a series of cluster headaches and sweating – I was hospitalized I thought I had a brain tumor – after tests they said this was the situation. It’s a hard three letters to absorb.”
Charlie Sheen rose to fame in the 80s with hit movies including Platoon and Wall Street and, in 2011, was the highest-paid actor on TV thanks to his sitcom role.
He has frequently struggled with drink and drug abuse.
Charlie Sheen, who played a hedonistic bachelor in Two And A Half Men, was fired from the show in 2011 after a downward spiral in his personal life that was often played out in public.
Production had been suspended after he entered rehabilitation for reported drug and alcohol abuse.
Charlie Sheen – the youngest son of West Wing star Martin Sheen and brother of actor Emilio Estevez – has also had a troubled personal life and has been married three times.
He first marriage was to Donna Peele in 1995 but they split up after a year. His second marriage was to former Bond girl Denise Richards, with whom he has two daughters. They divorced in 2006 and he married Brooke Mueller, with whom he has twin sons.
Charlie Sheen was then due to marry Scottine Ross, but the wedding was called off.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), everyone who has HIV should be offered antiretroviral drugs as soon as possible after diagnosis.
The health agency’s latest policy removes previous limits suggesting patients wait until the disease progresses.
The WHO has also recommended people at risk of HIV be given the drugs to help prevent the infection taking hold.
UNAIDS said these changes could help avert 21 million AIDS-related deaths and 28 million new infections by 2030.
The recommendations increase the number of people with HIV eligible for ARVs from 28 million to 37 million across the world.
The challenge globally will be making sure everyone has access to them and the funds are in place to pay for such a huge extension in treatment. Only 15 million people currently get the drugs.
Michel Sidibe, of UNAIDS, added: “Everybody living with HIV has the right to life-saving treatment. The new guidelines are a very important steps towards ensuring that all people living with HIV have immediate access to antiretroviral treatment.”
The WHO announcement comes after extensive research into the issue.
A US National Institutes of Health study due to run until 2016 was stopped early after an interim analysis found giving treatment straight after diagnosis cut deaths and complications, such as kidney or liver disease, by half.
According to a major scientific study, HIV is evolving into a milder form, becoming less deadly and less infectious.
The research team at the University of Oxford shows the virus is being “watered down” as it adapts to our immune systems.
It said it was taking longer for HIV infection to cause AIDS and that the changes in the virus may help efforts to contain the pandemic.
Some virologists suggest the virus may eventually become “almost harmless” as it continues to evolve.
More than 35 million people around the world are infected with HIV and inside their bodies a devastating battle takes place between the immune system and the virus.
HIV is a master of disguise. It rapidly and effortlessly mutates to evade and adapt to the immune system.
However, every so often HIV infects someone with a particularly effective immune system.
“[Then] the virus is trapped between a rock and hard place, it can get flattened or make a change to survive and if it has to change then it will come with a cost,” said Prof. Philip Goulder, from the University of Oxford.
The “cost” is a reduced ability to replicate, which in turn makes the virus less infectious and means it takes longer to cause AIDS.
This weakened virus is then spread to other people and a slow cycle of “watering-down” HIV begins.
The team showed this process happening in Africa by comparing Botswana, which has had an HIV problem for a long time, and South Africa where HIV arrived a decade later.
The findings in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences also suggested anti-retroviral drugs were forcing HIV to evolve into milder forms.
It showed the drugs would primarily target the nastiest versions of HIV and encourage the milder ones to thrive.
The group did caution that even a watered-down version of HIV was still dangerous and could cause AIDS.
HIV originally came from apes or monkeys, in which it is frequently a minor infection.