Charlie Sheen: A Man Living With HIV and His Consequences

Amy Wesley
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Radaronline.com reports that Charlie Sheen, 50 confirmed to the world that he is HIV positive as he sat with Matt Lauer on Tuesday morning. This Admission followed a reveal by the National ENQUIRER on Monday. Radar previously reported, Sheen said that he has known about his status for four years, but denied that his 2011 media breakdown was fueled by the drugs he was doing during the battle with his depression. Sheen said by going public with his health issues, he hopes that he is “kicking the door open” for HIV awareness.

“Roughly four years ago, I suddenly found myself in the throws [sic] of a seismic and debilitating three-day clustermigraine like headache. I was emergently hospitalized with what I believed to be a brain tumor or perhaps some unknown pathology. 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.

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The news was a ‘mule kick’ to my soul. 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.

Under the brilliant and perfect care of Dr. Robert Huizenga as well as “the” leading infectious disease expert in the known universe, I began a rigorous and intensive treatment program. 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. I wish my story had ended there. Unfortunately, for my family and myself, it had only just begun. The personal disbelief, karmic confusion, shame and anger lead to a temporary yet abysmal decent into profound substance abuse and fathomless drinking. It was a suicide run. 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.

In and around this perplexing and difficult time, I dazedly chose (or hired) the companionship of unsavory and insipid types. Regardless of their salt-less reputations, I always lead with condoms and honesty when it came to my condition. Sadly, my truth soon became their treason, as a deluge of blackmail and extortion took center stage in this circus of deceit.

To date, I have paid out countless millions to these desperate charlatans. Locked in a vacuum of fear, I chose to allow their threats and skullduggery to vastly deplete future assets from my children, while my “secret” sat entombed in their hives of folly. (or so I thought)

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News Flash: This ends today. I’m claiming back my freedom. The scales of justice will swiftly and righteously rebalance themselves.

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. Every day, of every month, of every year, countless individuals go to work, man their stations, fulfill their professional obligations with a host of disabilities. Diseases, imperfections, hurdles, detours. These maladies range from Lupus to Cancer, from paralysis to blindness, from Diabetes to Obesity. “Treated,” HIV is no different.

My partying days are behind me. My philanthropic days are ahead of me. Earnest (sic) Hemingway once wrote: “Courage is grace under pressure.”

I’ve served my time under pressure; I now embrace the courage, and the grace.

Love and Peace,

Charlie Sheen”

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What people living with HIV need most are compassion and support. What people who are not living with HIV need most is education and enlightenment into the facts and misconceptions regarding the illness.

The Top Ten Myths and Facts About HIV

Myth: I can get HIV by being around people are HIV positive.

Fact: The evidence shows that HIV is not spread through touch, tears, sweat, or saliva.

You cannot catch HIV by:

• Breathing the same air as someone who is HIV-positive
• Touching a toilet seat or doorknob handle after an HIV-positive person
• Drinking from a water fountain
• Hugging, kissing or shaking hands with someone who is HIV-positive
• Sharing eating utensils with an HIV-positive person
• Using exercise equipment at a gym

Myth: I don’t need to worry about becoming HIV positive. New drugs will keep me well.

Fact: Yes, antiretroviral drugs are improving and extending the lives of many people who are HIV-positive. However, many of these drugs are expensive and produce serious side effects. None yet provides a cure. Also, drug-resistant strains of HIV make treatment an increasing challenge.

Myth: I can get HIV from mosquitoes.

Fact: Because HIV is spread through blood, people have worried that biting or bloodsucking insects might spread HIV. Several studies, however, show no evidence to support this — even in areas with lots of mosquitoes and cases of HIV. When insects bite, they do not inject the blood of the person or animal they have last bitten. Also, HIV lives for only a short time inside an insect.

Myth: I’m HIV positive, my life is over.

Fact: In the early years of the disease epidemic, the death rate from AIDS was extremely high. But today, antiretroviral drugs allow HIV-positive people — and even those with AIDS — to live much longer, normal, and productive lives.

Myth: I’m straight and don’t use IV drugs. I won’t become HIV positive.

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Fact: Most men do become HIV-positive through sexual contact with other men. However, about 16% of men and 78% of women become HIV-positive through heterosexual.

Myth: If I’m receiving treatment, I cannot spread the HIV Virus.

When HIV treatments work well, they can reduce the amount of virus in your blood to a level so low that it doesn’t show up in blood tests. Research shows, however, that the virus is still “hiding” in other areas of the body. It is still essential to practice safe sex so you won’t make someone else become HIV-positive.

Myth: My partner and I are both HIV positive, there’s no need for us to practice safer sex.

Fact: Practicing safer sex — wearing condoms or using dental dams — can protect you both from becoming exposed to other (potentially drug resistant) strains of HIV.

Myth: I could tell if my partner was HIV positive.

Fact: You can be HIV-positive and not have any symptoms for years. The only way for you or your partner to know if you’re HIV-positive is to get tested.

Myth: You cannot contract HIV from oral sex.

Fact: It’s true that oral sex is less risky than some other types of sex. But you can get HIV by having oral sex with either a man or a woman who is HIV-positive. Always use a latex barrier during oral sex.

For nearly 30 years, HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) has been shrouded in myths and misconceptions. In some cases, these mistaken ideas have prompted the very behaviors that cause more people to become HIV-positive.

Although unanswered questions about HIV remain, researchers have learned a great deal. It would do us all well to inform ourselves with the truth behind the illness before we pass judgment on someone who is living with it. In virtually all cases, they are all just grateful to still be LIVING, even if they are living with HIV.

Because of this illness, Sheen is now faced with his own mortality and according to his letter, he’s no longer allowing fear and shame to silence him. I too hope that ultimately he will “kick the door open” for HIV awareness.

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