Charlie Sheen publishes defiant open letter after HIV diagnosis: 'I'm claiming back my freedom'

'The scales of justice will swiftly and righteously re-balance themselves'

Heather Saul
Tuesday 17 November 2015 17:41 GMT
Charlie Sheen reveals he has HIV in an interview with NBC
Charlie Sheen reveals he has HIV in an interview with NBC (NBC)

Charlie Sheen has issued a defiant open letter to those who allegedly blackmailed him after he disclosed his HIV positive status on television.

The Two and a Half Men actor spoke candidly about his diagnosis on NBC’s Today show on Tuesday, four years after learning he had contracted the virus.

Sheen claims he was betrayed and extorted by a number of people who demanded cash to not speak to the press about his illness, allegedly paying out $10 million in total.

However, he said his treatment programme has ensured the virus is ‘undetectable’ in his blood and was succeeding despite his sustained alcohol and substance abuse.

In his letter, he vowed to fight back after the alleged blackmail from members of his inner circle.

“The personal disbelief, karmic confusion, shame and anger lead to a temporary yet abysmal descent into profound substance abuse and fathomless drinking. It was a suicide run. Problem was, I'd forgotten that I'm too tough for such a cowardly departure. Yet, despite this loathsome and horrific odyssey, I was vigilant with my anti-viral program,“ he wrote.

Heather Locklear sent a message of support to Sheen
Heather Locklear sent a message of support to Sheen (Getty Images)

“In and around this perplexing and difficult time, I dazedly chose (or hired) the companionship of unsavory and insipid types. Regardless of their salt-less reputations, I always lead with condoms and honesty when it came to my condition. Sadly, my truth soon became their treason, as a deluge of blackmail and extortion took centre stage in this circus of deceit.

“Locked in a vacuum of fear, I chose to allow their threats and skulduggery to vastly deplete future assets from my children, while my ‘secret’ sat entombed in their hives of folly (or so I thought).

“News Flash: This ends today. I'm claiming back my freedom. The scales of justice will swiftly and righteously re-balance themselves.”

Shaun Griffin, the Executive Director of External Affairs for the Terrence Higgins Trust, condemned the events leading up to his interview that led Sheen to announce his status.

A number of tabloids published inflammatory stories speculating over his health, drug use and his sexual activity after finding out he is HIV positive.

Mr Griffin told The Independent people should be “ashamed” to live in a world where a person can be coerced into revealing something so personal.

“Charlie Sheen said that by addressing his HIV positive status publicly he would be granted ‘release from this prison’. He was held to ransom by previous partners, and we know he was forced to reveal his status through media bullying - we should all be ashamed that we live in a world that allowed this.

“The fact is that it is utterly wrong to disclose an individuals HIV status without their permission. Sadly, even with the advances made in HIV testing and treatment, this shows that unfounded prejudices still remain. It is attitudes like these that perpetuate HIV stigma.

“We owe it to all of those living with HIV to carry fact when reporting about this story. The fact is that for anyone diagnosed with HIV, they are given treatment that reduces the amount of HIV virus to an “undetectable” amount and this means HIV cannot be passed on.

“As we approach World Aids Day we are appealing to everybody to stand shoulder to shoulder with those who are living with HIV. This 1 December wear your red ribbon and stop stigma.”

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