$10m blackmail forced me to reveal HIV status: Sheen
Charlie Sheen has admitted he went public about his HIV-positive status because he was sick of being blackmailed and had already paid out $10m.
The actor (50) said he found out about his illness four years ago and has since been the victim of "blackmail and extortion".
In a live interview with Matt Lauer on American morning TV show 'Today', he 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 and harmful stories that are about threatening the health of so many others."
There had been widespread speculation about Sheen's health in the media in the days before the interview.
Sheen was once the highest-paid actor on American television for his show 'Two And A Half Men' and said he had been the subject of "shakedowns" to buy the silence of members of his inner circle.
In a letter to Lauer that the host read on air, Sheen said: "Sadly my truth soon became their treason as a deluge of blackmail and extortion took centre stage in this circus of deceit."
Asked how many people he had paid, Sheen 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."
Lauer said Sheen had told him off-camera that he had paid out upwards of $10m (€9m) in the "shakedowns", and he asked the actor about his financial situation as a result.
Sheen replied: "It's not great, it will be great again. I'm a survivor, I've been up, I've been down. I've been rich, I've been poor, I've been unemployed. It's another chapter in my life."
Sheen rose to fame in films such as 'Platoon' and 'Wall Street'. 'Two And A Half Men' was once the most popular show on US TV, for which he earned $1.8m per episode. But he was fired from his role as a thrill-seeking bachelor 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 he wished he could blame that episode on his illness but admitted it did come 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.
Sheen told Lauer he associated with people who went on to blackmail him because he was so devastated by his illness.
Asked if he had knowingly or unknowingly transmitted HIV to any of his sexual partners, Sheen said: "Impossible." He is now expecting lawsuits from sexual partners as a result of his revelation.
Sheen's doctor, Dr Robert Huizenga, from UCLA, told Lauer the actor now has an undetectable level of the virus in his blood and does not have Aids.
Sheen has been married three times, including to former Bond girl Denise Richards (left), and has five children.