Actor Charlie Sheen departs the Today Show after revealing he is HIV positive

Charlie Sheen reveals he is HIV positive during an appearance on U.S. television program, Today Show.

NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK, UNITED STATES (NOVEMBER 17, 2015) (REUTERS) – Charlie Sheen, former star of the hit U.S. television comedy “Two and A Half Men,” said on Tuesday (November 17) he was diagnosed HIV positive some four years ago and had been extorted for more than $10 million (USD) to keep the information quiet.

Sheen, 50, told NBC’s “Today” TV show he was speaking out because he was being blackmailed, and to refute tabloid reports that he has AIDS and was spreading it to other people.

Asked whether he had transmitted HIV to anyone since his diagnosis, Sheen said, “impossible.” He said he had informed his ex-wives immediately after getting his diagnosis.

Sheen acknowledged he had paid people “upwards of $10 million” in recent years for their silence about his condition but said he would no longer do so: “I think I released myself from this prison today,” he said.

Sheen, the son of “West Wing” TV actor Martin Sheen, said he doesn’t feel any stigma from being HIV positive, a condition that affects more than 1.2 million people in the United States alone, according to government statistics.

HIV, or human immunodeficiency virus, weakens the immune system by destroying cells that fight disease and infection. No effective cure exists, but with proper medical care it can be controlled. If not, one can be infected with AIDS.

Sheen also starred in 1980s movies “Platoon” and “Wall Street,” as well as the 2012-2014 cable TV comedy “Anger Management,” which was closely based on his life.

He has five children from his marriages to model Donna Peele, actresses Denise Richards and Brooke Mueller, and other relationships.