(CNN) – The actor Charlie Sheen told NBC’s “Today Show” on Tuesday that he was diagnosed as HIV-positive about four years ago — and that a few people who knew it demanded money from him to keep the secret.
“I’m here to admit that I am in fact HIV-positive,” Sheen told NBC’s Matt Lauer. “And I have to put a stop to this onslaught, this barrage of attacks and of sub-truths and very harmful and mercurial stories that are about the (alleged) threatening the health of so many others, which couldn’t be farther from the truth.”
“It’s a hard three letters to absorb,” he said. “It’s a turning point in one’s life.”
He said he the diagnosis came after he suffered a series of migraines.
“After a battery of tests … they walked in the room and said, ‘Boom, here’s what’s going on,’ ” Sheen said.
He said he revealed the diagnosis to people he thought he trusted, but some of them demanded money to keep the information to themselves. He paid those people “in the millions,” he said.
“We’re talking about shakedowns,” he said. “I’ve paid those people — not that many.”
One of those people, he said was a prostitute who entered his bathroom, took a cellphone picture of his medication and threatened to sell the image to tabloids.
Asked if he would continue to pay the people he’d been paying, he said: “Not after today, I’m not.”
Up and downs
Sheen, 50, is one of Hollywood’s best-known actors, starring in hit films like “Wall Street” and on the CBS sitcom “Two and a Half Men.”
Sheen was fired from “Two and a Half Men” in 2011 after a public meltdown that had the actor lashing out at the show’s creator.
Among the more notorious points of his career, Sheen entered drug rehab twice and lived with three women.
Sheen has been married multiple times to women including Brooke Mueller and Denise Richards and had children with each.
His salary on “Two and a Half Men” was one of the highest on TV at the time, at $1.25 million per episode in 2010.