Actor Charlie Sheen, a favorite subject of the media and the public due to his "tiger blood" antics, made a sobering announcement today.
On NBC's "Today" show Tuesday morning, Sheen announced that he has human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). The actor said he's known his status for four years but has been hiding it from the public.
"It had started with what I thought was based on this series of cluster headaches and migraines and sweating the bed," Sheen told "Today" host Matt Lauer. "... I thought I had a brain tumor. After a battery of tests ... they walked in the room and said, 'Here’s what's going on.' It’s a hard three letters to absorb. It’s a turning point in one’s life."
Indeed, an HIV diagnosis can be life-changing. Around 1.2 million people in the US live with this virus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). HIV damages the immune system's ability to function, which can eventually lead to acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), the final stage of the disease.
In a later interview with "Today," Sheen and his doctor confirmed that the actor has HIV, not AIDS. According to The New York Times, Sheen's doctor noted that Sheen had an "undetectable level of the virus" in his bloodstream.
HIV is most often spread through blood or sexual contact. There is no cure for the disease. Although it was once considered a life-ending diagnosis, some patients can live long lives with the help of modern medications and therapies. Sheen said he takes around four pills a day, according to the Times.
An estimated 13,712 people in the US died of AIDS in 2012, according to the CDC.