Public support for Charlie Sheen continues to pour out since his public admission that he is HIV-positive on “The Today Show.”
Los Angeles LGBT Center Director of Health and Mental Health Services Chris Brown expressed hope that “the shame that causes people to conceal the fact that they’re HIV-positive” can end.
“Thirty-four years into the epidemic, treatments for HIV have advanced considerably, but perceptions regarding people who are positive haven’t. So it’s no surprise, yet still very sad, to learn that even someone as privileged as Charlie Sheen felt the need to hide his status for years,” the statement said.
“To help reduce stigma, we need to talk about HIV and we need to get educated, but as a society, we don’t do that very much. Here at the Center, we continue to hear horror stories from HIV-positive clients who face rejection and shaming from people who learn their status. Much of the reaction and media reports before and after Sheen’s announcement reveal how much people still have to learn about HIV.”
Brown noted that one of the most serious side effects of HIV stigma is that “it deters people from wanting to learn their status, robbing them of the opportunity to get the treatment that’s so important to protecting their heath and the health of their sexual partners. Alarmingly, one out of seven people who are HIV-positive today don’t know it. What’s even more alarming is that only 1 in 5 young gay/bisexual men have ever been tested, and they — particularly young men of color—along with transgender women, have the highest risk of HIV infection.”
Charlie Sheen said his bad-boy days are over and, with his declaration that he’s HIV-positive, he aims to become an inspiration to others.
“My partying days are behind me,” Sheen said in an “open letter” posted online. “My philanthropic days are ahead of me.”
This manifesto was released as the former “Two and a Half Men” star appeared on NBC’s “Today” to say he tested positive for the virus that causes AIDS about four years ago, but that, thanks to a rigorous drug regimen, he’s healthy.
When asked by “Today” co-host Matt Lauer if he had transmitted the disease to others, Sheen declared, “Impossible. Impossible,” and insisted he had informed every sexual partner of his condition beforehand. He told Lauer he has had unprotected sex with two partners, both of whom knew ahead of time, adding, with no clarification, “They were under the care of my doctor.”
That claim was disputed by Bree Olson, who was living with Sheen in 2011 as one of his two “goddesses.”
“He never said anything to me,” Olson said on Howard Stern’s SiriusXM radio show Tuesday. “I was his girlfriend. I lived with him.”
She said she learned of Sheen’s condition only in the past few days, prompting her to be tested. She told Stern the results were negative.
Asked by Lauer if he expected “a barrage of lawsuits” from past sexual partners alleging he infected them, he said wanly, “I’m sure that’s next.”
But in California, where Sheen resides, a person can be charged with a felony only if they are aware they are HIV-positive and engage in unprotected sex with another person with the specific intent of exposing them to the disease.
Sheen could potentially be sued in civil court by any partners he hasn’t already settled with, with the amount of damages they would recoup determined by a judge or jury.