Charlie Sheen’s doctor appeared alongside the actor on Tuesday’s “Today” show to confirm that the star’s HIV is no longer detectable in his blood.
“Charlie has contracted the HIV virus,” Sheen’s physician, UCLA assistant professor of clinical medicine Dr. Robert Huizenga, confirmed to “Today” anchor Matt Lauer.
“He was immediately put on treatment, strong antiviral drugs which have suppressed the virus — unfortunately, we don’t have a cure yet — it suppressed the virus to the point that he is absolutely healthy from that vantage,” he continued.
Sheen, 50, admitted earlier on the news program that he was diagnosed with HIV four years ago. Dr. Huizenga said that his biggest worry regarding Sheen isn’t his HIV status at this time.
“My biggest concern for Charlie as a patient is substance abuse and depression from the disease more than what the HIV virus can do in terms of shortening his life because it’s not going to,” the doctor said.
Sheen said that he no longer uses recreational drugs, but still drinks alcohol. He hopes that admitting his HIV status will lead to the end of his drinking.
The actor’s doctor also clarified that Sheen doesn’t have AIDS.
“AIDS is a condition when the HIV virus markedly suppresses the immune system and you’re susceptible to rare, difficult cancers and infections,” Huizenga explained. “Charlie has none of those. He is healthy. He does not have AIDS.”
Sheen’s admission arrives after tabloid the Enquirer first reported the actor had contracted the virus on Monday. It also reported that the actor has risked the health of several sexual partners and others who didn’t know he had the virus, including his former wives.
But the physician said there’s a very small chance that Sheen can pass the virus to sexual partners if he continues his treatment and uses protection. Sheen said he has never missed taking his medication over the four years since his diagnosis and that he has informed all his sexual partners of his diagnosis, including at least two of his ex-wives, Denise Richards and Brooke Mueller.
The former “Anger Management” star hopes that he can help others with his admission.
“I have a responsibility now to better myself and to help a lot of other people,” he said. “And hopefully with what we’re doing today, others may come forward and say, ‘Thanks, Charlie. Thanks for kicking the door open.'”
Amid the reports of Sheen’s illness, “Today” sent a release to media on Monday announcing that Sheen would make “a revealing personal announcement” on the show. Media sites were quick to confirm with sources that indeed Sheen had planned to speak about contracting HIV on “Today.”
Sheen’s unpredictable behaviour and public fights with “Two and a Half Men” co-creator Chuck Lorre led to his firing from the series in early 2011. He then went on to FX’s appropriately titled “Anger Management” comedy for two years and 100 episodes. Most recently, he appeared on the “Ferris Bueller” episode of ABC’s “The Goldbergs” in February.
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