HIV/Aids

Updated 18 November 2015

Charlie Sheen confirms he is HIV positive

After much speculation in the last 24 hours, Charlie Sheen has confirmed that he is HIV positive in an interview on The Today Show.

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Well-known television star and bad boy Charlie Sheen has revealed a very personal secret in an interview on The Today Show - he is HIV positive and was diagnosed four years ago.

In the interview he says:

"I’m here to admit I am HIV positive.”

Sheen goes on to state that some people knew about his HIV status and used it to blackmail him. He reveals that he has had to pay millions to prevent people around him from sharing his secret.

Yesterday, Channel24 and a number of other entertainment websites published reported that Charlie Sheen may be HIV positive after The Today Show announced that Sheen was due to make a "revealing personal announcement" in an interview today.

TMZ reported that the Two-and-a-Half-Men star has been on antiretroviral medication for some time.

Because of his adherence to treatment, 50-year-old Sheen's viral load is reported to now be undetectable. Many people incorrectly claim that an undetectable viral load means that they have been 'cured' of HIV. This is not true.

Viral load gives an indication of how quickly the disease is progressing but can also be used to determine how well the antiretroviral therapy (ART) is working. A viral load that is on the lower end of the spectrum is referred to as 'undetectable' even though there are still HIV particles in the blood. 

Read: Half of all Khayelitsha men don't know their HIV status

High-risk behaviours

Sheen, who is often in the headlines, is known to engage in risky behaviours and has been caught up in a number of scandals over the years including recurring issues with cocaine and alcohol abuse. He has also frequently been linked to escorts and women in the adult film industry and boasts that he has slept with over 5000 women.

Having multiple sex partners and injecting drugs are both considered to significantly increase the risk of contracting HIV.

Sheen's ex-wife and mother of his twin sons, Brooke Mueller has spoken out saying that when she discovered that Sheen was HIV positive she realised that she could potentially be infected too Radar Online explains.

Ex-girlfriend Bree Olson tweeted yesterday that she has gone for HIV testing:

Sheen firmly denies that he has transmitted the virus to anyone else, saying that he always informed his sex partners and used protection.

If Sheen has infected Mueller, Olson and any other women he may find himself facing criminal charges for neglecting to inform them that he has HIV. 

Read: Many HIV positive men have unsafe sex

Signs of HIV

Symptoms of HIV often appear quickly, even three weeks after infection. Some of the early signs include:

- Night sweats/Fever

Fatigue and muscle aches

- Sore throat

- Swollen glands

- Mouth ulcers

- Genital ulcers

- Rashes on the skin

- Sore eyes and sensitivity to light

- Headaches

Read more:

Is Charlie Sheen bipolar?

Real-life story: HIV is not a death sentence

Dangerous lies: 'Healer cures man of HIV'

 

Ask the Expert

HIV/Aids expert

Dr Sindisiwe van Zyl qualified at the University of Pretoria before working for an HIV/AIDS NPO in Soweto for many years. She was named one of the Mail & Guardian's Top 200 Young South Africans in 2012.

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