Charlie Sheen admitted he is HIV-positive on Tuesday. In an interview with NBC’s “Today,” the “Anger Management” actor revealed his diagnosis, which he has been living with for about four years. The announcement has raised questions about his health, and there are a few basic things his fans should know if they’re unfamiliar with the disease:
1. It’s not AIDS – The actor is HIV-positive, but his doctor, Robert Huizenga, explained that he does not have AIDS. Although HIV can be a precursor to the more serious disease, it’s also possible that Sheen’s HIV will never progress. According to AIDS.gov, “By using HIV medicines (called antiretroviral therapy or ART) consistently, you can prevent HIV from progressing to AIDS.”
Watch Sheen’s doctor explain that he doesn’t have AIDS below:
2. He Likely Won’t Die – Though there are still people who die of HIV, with proper treatment, people are living with the disease for decades. The Health Resources and Services Administration notes that “emphasis should be placed on the extraordinary benefits of therapy, which, for many, may mean a normal lifespan.”
3. A Lifetime Of Medication – There is no cure for HIV. In order to keep the disease from progressing, Sheen will be on medication for the rest of his life. He currently takes four pills a day, what’s commonly known as the “triple cocktail.” It’s a mix of antiretroviral drugs that will suppress the HIV infection and allow him to live a normal, healthy life.
4. It’s Not “Impossible” To Pass HIV – During the first segment of his “Today” interview, Sheen claimed it was “impossible” for him to infect other partners, but his doctor later clarified that it would be “rare” for Sheen to pass it when using protection. Though Sheen admitted to having unprotected sex after his diagnosis, it’s recommended that he still use protection like condoms and pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP).