Charlie Sheen announced this morning on the Today show that he is HIV-positive. Why did he announce it? To help minimize the shame that others with HIV might feel? To help erase the stigma? To raise awareness?
No. In typical Sheen fashion, he announced it so he can avoid shakedowns from the prostitutes and other women he has slept with. Because he’s tired of paying them off. He’s paid upwards of $10 million in hush money, and he’s tapped out, so he’s decided to let the world know that he is HIV-positive.
He also said that he disclosed his diagnosis to all his sexual partners, including his ex-wife, but in some cases, “his trust led to their treason … Having divulged it is the reason I’m in the mess that I’m in with all the shakedowns.” According to his doctor, it’s almost impossible for him to transmit it because the virus is undetectable in his blood because Sheen has stayed on top of his regimen.
No one deserves HIV, not even Charlie Sheen. But I’ve seen strong, amazing men succumb to the disease; I’ve watched their bodies wither away, their minds turn mush. I’ve seen them bravely face down death, and I’ve seen them lose, slip away into darkness. It’s heartbreaking. I think about those men and how revealing they had AIDS ended many of their lives long before the disease did, and then I think about Charlie Sheen paying off prostitutes so that he could keep his diagnosis a secret. He didn’t disclose his diagnosis for any other reason than a selfish one. This is not a redemption story, and I hope to God that’s not the narrative the media runs with. It’s a selfish person being guided by selfish motivations.
I hope that Charlie Sheen lives a long and healthy life. I hope that — as long as he continues to disclose his diagnosis — that he can continue to have a relatively normal sex life, insofar as Charlie Sheen’s sex life can be normal. I will not, however, view his decision to reveal that he is HIV-positive as a brave one.