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Charlie Sheen reveals he is HIV-positive on TV

Sheen revealed he was diagnosed four years ago
Sheen revealed he was diagnosed four years ago

Hollywood actor Charlie Sheen today confirmed he is HIV-positive.

The Platoon actor, 50, speaking to Matt Lauer on American morning TV show Today, revealed he was diagnosed four years ago.

There was widespread speculation about Sheen's health in the media in the days before the interview.

Speaking to Lauer at NBC's studios in New York, Sheen said: "I am here to admit I am HIV-positive and I have to put a stop to the onslaught and barrage of attacks and sub-truths that are threatening the health of so many others."

Sheen rose to fame in films such as Ferris Bueller's Day Off and Wall Street and was once the highest paid actor on television for his sitcom Two and a Half Men.

He was fired from the show in 2011 after a series of angry and rambling interviews and public appearances in which he declared he possessed "tiger blood" and "Adonis DNA" and described his own behaviour as "winning".

He told Lauer that episode came on the back of being diagnosed.

Sheen, who is the son of West Wing actor Martin Sheen, has long struggled with substance abuse and spent time in rehab. He has also admitted to soliciting prostitutes and testified in the tax evasion trial of Hollywood madam Heidi Fleiss in 1995.

In May, Martin, 75, said in an interview he felt "powerless" during his son's public breakdown.

He told Radio Times: "What he was going through at that time, we were powerless to do much, except to pray for him and lift him up."

Sheen has been married three times and has five children.

His first marriage was to Donna Peele, his high school sweetheart, and his second to former Bond girl Denise Richards.

Richards and Sheen have two daughters together, Sam and Lola. The couple finalised their divorce in November 2006.

In 2008, Sheen wed for a third time, to Brooke Mueller, with whom he has twin sons - Bob and Max.

Wedding number four was on the cards when he announced his engagement to adult film star Scottine Ross, but it was called off after a few months.

Sheen also has a daughter with a high school girlfriend.

Dressed in a navy blue suit with a pale blue tie loosened at the collar, Sheen said he was diagnosed after suffering from headaches and migraines and sweating in bed.

He said: "I had to be hospitalised, I thought I had a brain tumour, I thought it was over."

He added: "It's a hard three letters to absorb."

Asked by Lauer if people have demanded money to stay silent about his diagnosis, Sheen said: "I have paid those people - not that many, but enough."

Asked how many, he said: "I don't want to guess wrong but enough to bring it into the millions, and what people forget is that is money they are taking from my children."

In a letter to Lauer that the host read on air, Sheen said he had been the victim of "unsavoury and insipid types" after he led with "condoms and honesty when it came to my condition".

In the letter he wrote: "Sadly my truth soon became their treason as a deluge of blackmail and extortion took centre stage in this circus of deceit."

He said he had been betrayed by people deep in his inner circle and when asked by Lauer if he was talking about blackmail or shakedowns, Sheen said: "We are talking about shakedowns."