NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Former “Two and a Half Men” star Charlie Sheen has revealed that he is HIV-positive.

“I am in fact HIV-positive, and I have to put a stop to this barrage of attacks and sub-truths,” Sheen said.

In an interview Tuesday on NBC’s “Today,” the 50-year-old actor said he was diagnosed about four years ago.

PHOTOS: Charlie Sheen Through The Years

“It started with what I thought — based on 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 it was a brain tumor, I thought it was over,” Sheen said. “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. It’s a turning point in one’s life.”

Web Extra: Sheen’s Full Statement On Being HIV Positive

When asked by “Today” co-host Matt Lauer if he had transmitted the disease to others, he declared, “Impossible.”

Sheen said one reason for going public with his condition was to put a stop to shakedowns from prostitutes and others who threatened to out him. He said he had paid “enough to bring it into the millions” — perhaps as much as $10 million — to buy their silence.

He said one prostitute took a photo of the HIV-related drugs in his medicine cabinet and threatened to sell it to the tabloids.

As CBS2’s Jill Nicolini reported, Sheen said that going public released himself from a prison.

“Are you still paying these people?” Lauer asked him.

“Not after today I’m not,” Sheen said. “I release myself from this prison today.”

With his public pronouncement he said he hoped to reduce the stigma still felt by some diagnosed with HIV.

“I have a responsibility now to better myself and to help a lot of other people,” he said. “And hopefully with what we’re doing today, others may come forward and say, ‘Thanks, Charlie, for kicking the door open.”’

The disclosure was only the latest chapter in Sheen’s headline-seizing behavior. In recent years, drug and alcohol use led to his being kicked off CBS’ “Two and a Half Men” in 2011 after an explosive meltdown that included calling the show’s producer “a contaminated little maggot.”

“When Charlie Sheen had his epic meltdown at the end of the run on “Two And A Half Men” that was just after he had just found out he was HIV positive,” Bonnie Fuller, Editor-In-Chief, Hollywoodlife.com said.

In 2010, he was accused of trashing a room at the luxury Plaza Hotel in New York and threatening to kill his porn star companion. He voluntarily went with authorities for a psychiatric evaluation and was released from the hospital the same day. No legal action was taken.

His escapades also included the revelation that he spent more than $50,000 as a client of “Hollywood Madam” Heidi Fleiss’ prostitution ring.

Lauer asked Sheen if the diagnosis had anything to do with a period in his life where he made several media appearances talking about his “tiger blood” and “winning.”

“I wish I could blame it on that, that was more of a roid rage, but this was on the heels of that,” Sheen said.

Two and a Half Men” debuted in 2003 and starred Sheen as womanizing bachelor Charlie Harper. It made Sheen one of TV’s highest-paid actors and at its peak was TV’s most-watched sitcom. It ended its run earlier this year, after Ashton Kutcher stepped in for the fired Sheen.

In 2012, Sheen returned to TV in “Anger Management,” an FX sitcom adapted from the movie of the same name.

Sheen has been wed three times, the first time to model Donna Peele in the 1990s.

He and actress Denise Richards were married from 2002-2006 and have two daughters. Sheen and real estate investor Brooke Mueller wed in 2008 and divorced in 2011; they have two sons. Sheen said he had informed her of his diagnosis.

Sheen said he hasn’t missed a day of medication and his doctor confirmed that the virus is now undetectable in his blood.

He also said that since the diagnosis he has told all of his sexual partners before any encounters.

“He said he had unprotected sex with two different people and that they were aware of their status. He also says that it would be impossible for anybody to have contracted the disease from him,” Fuller said.

Both of his ex-wives confirmed publicly that they, nor their children have the virus.

“People with HIV today can live long and healthy productive lives and quite frankyl the fact that Charlie has come out gives us an opportunity to talk about HIV,” Anthony Hayes, GMHC, VP of Public Affairs, said.

A combination of three or more drugs has revolutionized AIDS therapy. One drug isn’t enough to disable HIV, but with multiple drugs from at least two different classes of drug, each one hitting the virus at a different weakpoint, it can knock the virus down enough to make it undetectable.

As CBS2’s Dr. Max Gomez explained, when Sheen says he has undetectable levels of HIV in his blood, it means that the medications he has been on have blocked the virus from multiplying in his system. The viral load is so low that tests can find few, or no copies of the virus.

Theoretically, it is is highly unlikely that he could infect a sexual partner if he strictly sticks to his drug regimen. A small slip-up in taking the drugs could allow the virus to re-emerge because it is always hiding dormant in his immune system.

However the treatment is expensive, and does not work for everyone. The drugs must been taken exactly as prescribed. It’s not a cure, but a lifelong treatment.

Sheen’s ex girlfriend Bree Olsen who used to be an adult film actress spoke out on Tuesday, said the actor never told her he was HIV positive while they were dating. She took a blood test yesterday and said she is thankful to be HIV free, but is angry at Sheen.

It is a felony in California for someone to have unprotected sex without disclosing that they’re HIV positive.

(TM and © Copyright 2015 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2015 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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