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People.com
Nov 17, 2015 @ 8:45 am

Charlie Sheen is living with HIV, he revealed Tuesday morning. 

The actor went public with his health battle in a bombshell interview with the Today show's Matt Lauer. 

"I’m here to admit that I am in fact HIV-positive and i have to put a stop to this onslaught, this barrage of attacks and of sub-truths and very harmful … stories that I am threatening the health of others, which couldn’t be farther from the truth." 

Sheen said he was diagnosed about four years ago after he suffered from "crushing headaches and insane migraines and sweating the bed, completely drenched two to three nights in a row." 

He said he was then rushed to the hospital: "I thought I had a brain tumor. I thought it was over." 

Sheen said he decided to come forward with his condition after being "shaken down" by people he thought he could trust who extorted him "into the millions," including a prostitute who took a photo of his antiretroviral medication and threatened to sell it to the tabloids.

RELATED: Heather Locklear Sends Supportive Message to Charlie Sheen Following HIV News: "My Heart Hurts"

So why continue to solicit paid sex, Lauer asked. 

"I was so depressed by the condition I was in, I was doing too many drugs, I was drinking too much," he explained. 

Sheen added that he has told all of his past sexual partners about his HIV and since then has only had unprotected sex with two women who were both "warned ahead of time" and under the care of his doctor. 

The Anger Management star said he does not "entirely" know how he contracted HIV but has not transmitted it to anyone else and is now committed to bettering himself and helping people by sharing his story. 

People confirmed Sheen’s diagnosis—first reported by the National Enquirer—on Monday. 

Sheen, 50, was married three times: to Donna Peele from 1995-96, actress Denise Richards from 2002-06 and actress Brooke Mueller from 2008-11. He ended an engagement to porn star Brett Rossi in 2014. 

Sheen abused drugs in the 1990s but got clean for a TV comeback, starring in the hit CBS sitcom Two and a Half Men from 2003-2011, when he sought treatment for addiction. He was fired from the show after criticizing creator Chuck Lorre. 

Most recently, a dental technician who accused Sheen of assaulting her in 2014 dropped her lawsuit, and he was asked to leave a California bar for getting into an argument in October. 

"What he was going through at that time, we were powerless to do much," his father, acclaimed actor Martin Sheen, said in May of his son's meltdown. "Except to pray for him and lift him up." 

RELATED: 15 Iconic Roles That Made Charlie Sheen Famous

Sheen has five children: daughter Cassandra Estevez, 30, from a high school relationship; daughters Sam, 11, and Lola, 10, with Richards, 44; and twin sons Bob and Max, 6, with Mueller, 38. 

On Tuesday, he said the people who extorted him over his HIV status were putting his kids and one grandchild at risk. 

"What people forget is that’s money they’re taking from my children," he said. 

But now, he believes the "shakedown" is over: "I think that I released myself from this prison today." 

A source told People on Monday that Richards has known about her ex-husband's HIV for "a number of years" but that neither she nor her daughters have tested positive. 

To learn more about living with HIV/AIDS today and to contribute in the fight against the diseases, visit amfAR.org.

This article originally appeared on People. For more stories like this, visit people.com.

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