Charlie Sheen admitted this morning to Matt Lauer on the Today Show that he has been receiving anti-viral treatment for HIV. According to Sheen, he has had HIV for the past four years and has been very cautious about it. The news is obviously devastating for Sheen and his family but, there is another reason Sheen decided to “come out.” Sheen says he is finally making his condition public because he’s sick of the way the media is managing his life story:
“I have to put a stop to this onslaught, this barrage of attacks and of sub-truths and very harmful and mercurial stories that are about me, that threaten the health of so many others that couldn’t be further from the truth.”
Perhaps the saddest part of Sheen’s interview was when he admitted he had only shared his diagnosis with people he considered close to him. Sadly, one of these people whom he did not identify, threatened to blackmail him by selling photos of his anti-viral medication to the tabloids. Then, he estimated he has paid millions of dollars to keep his diagnosis a secret.
This kind of pressure speaks volumes of the way we treat HIV+ people in our society.
Sheen says he doesn’t know how he contracted the virus but, it is clear he was concerned about the way the media would cover the story.
The fact that Sheen made his confession just to get ahead of tabloid exposure and the threat of extortion serves to prove that HIV is a stigma in our society. A stigma that is surrounded in ignorance. Not all cases of HIV are AIDS, sexual relations are not the only way to contract HIV but, it is clear Sheen was terrified that headlines suggesting these things might have surfaced had he not come out. In fact, if Sheen suffered any other disease, he would not have suffered from blackmail or intense tabloid interest. Hopefully Sheen will take the time to educate and help raise funds to fight against the disease.