After Charlie Sheen publicly announced his HIV-positive diagnosis on live television, his doctor revealed new details about how he has been treated for the virus for the past four years.
During an interview with Today's Matt Lauer Tuesday morning, Sheen's doctor for "five to six years," Dr. Robert Huizenga, clarified the actor's exact medical condition at the present time.
"Charlie does not have AIDS," Huizenga said. "AIDS is a condition when the HIV virus markedly suppresses the immune system and you're susceptible to rare, difficult cancers and infections. Charlie has none of those. He is healthy. He does not have AIDS."
"Charlie has contracted the HIV virus. He was immediately put on treatment—strong antiviral drugs, which have suppressed the virus. Unfortunately, we don't have a cure yet. It's suppressed the virus to the point that he is absolutely healthy from that vantage, and my biggest concern with Charlie as a patient is substance abuse and depression from the disease, more than what the HIV virus can do in terms of shortening his life because it's not going to."
While Huizenga said Sheen has an undetectable level of the virus in his blood, his doctor mentioned that using protection during sexual intercourse is still essential in preventing the spread of the virus. "Individuals who are optimally treated, who have undetectable viral lobes, who responsibly use protection have an incredibly low...it's incredibly rare to transmit the virus. We can't say that that's zero, but it's a very, very low number," he said.
Lauer later questioned Huizenga regarding the mercurial nature of the level of the HIV virus in-between blood tests and its ability to hide in genital fluids—could this still put Sheen's sexual partners at risk?
"If someone is conscientious and we have done repeated labs every several months over the last four years, then the odds of variations in between drug tests and lab tests would have to also be expected to be very, very low," the doctor said.
As for treatment, currently Sheen said he is taking four pills every day and is on the "triple cocktail." While Sheen said he no longer does recreational drugs, his level of daily treatment makes Huizenga nervous due to his volatile past of substance abuse.
"We're petrified about Charlie," he shared. "We're so, so anxious that if he was overly depressed, if he was abusing substance, he would forget these pills and that's been an incredible worry and magically somehow in the midst of the incredible personal mayhem, he's managed to take these medications." Sheen added that he has never once missed a medication.
While he admitted he is "still drinking a little bit," the actor said that may also change in the days to come. "Perhaps the freedom of today will lead to that as well."
The Golden Globe winner said he first had an inkling something was wrong when he began suffering from "this series of cluster headaches and insane migraines and sweating the bed, completely drenched two, three nights in a row, that I was emergency hospitalized."
"I thought I had a brain tumor. I thought it was over. After a battery of tests and spinal taps, all that crap, they walked in the room and said, 'Boom. Here's what's going on.' It's a hard three letters to absorb," he admitted.
"I'm here to admit that I am in fact HIV-positive," the 50-year-old star announced at the start of the interview. "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 me, threatening the health of so many others, which couldn't be further from the truth."
Sheen has five children and three ex-wives, Donna Peele (1995-1996), Denise Richards (2002-2006) and Brooke Mueller (2008-2011). E! News has learned that both Richards and her two daughters, Sam and Lola, are HIV-negative.
To learn more about HIV/AIDS and to contribute in the fight against the diseases, visit amfAR.
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