Charlie Sheen appeared on “Today” Tuesday to announce that he was diagnosed with HIV in 2011. He also revealed that after being diagnosed he’d had unprotected sex with a number of women. Viewers were largely split on the matter with some expressing outrage and other’s rallying behind Sheen, 50. Several celebrities, some who had been personally linked to the former “Two and a Half Men” star and others who had simply formed an opinion on the matter, even got in on the discussion.
Much of the outrage over Sheen’s diagnosis has come from former girlfriends and lovers who claim the actor did not disclose his HIV-positive status to them prior to being intimate. Ex-girlfriend and former adult film star Bree Olson has been outspoken in her distaste for Sheen following his announcement, going as far as to say she would “never forgive” him. Olsen has claimed she had no idea Sheen was battling HIV until three days before his announcement. She is asking that he share an exact date of diagnosis in an effort to prove his claims that he did not find out until after they split in April 2011. Jenny McCarthy, who played one of Sheen’s many love interests on “Two and a Half Men,” also spoke out against the actor. While live on her SiriusXM show “Dirty, Sexy, Funny” she claimed she should have been made aware of his HIV-positive status prior to filming her guest spot on the series.
I thought by doing 1 radio & 1 television interview- this would stop, but it hasn't. I DO NOT HAVE HIV. I AM HIV NEGATIVE.
— Bree Olson (@BreeOlson) November 18, 2015
After Sheen's announcement, memes and offensive jokes circulated online. As was reported by ATTN, some suggested he contacted the HIV virus from “a bad infusion of tiger blood,” referencing his 2011 rant, while others claimed they weren’t surprised to learn that he, of all people, had contracted the disease. One meme showed side-by-side images of the former “Anger Management” star and NBA great Magic Johnson, who is also HIV-positive, with “blood brothers” written across it.
Charlie Sheen jokes really? He might have HIV people, lets all try to be positive. Except you, Charlie.
— Drew Lynch (@TheDrewLynch) November 16, 2015
— Jonathan A Wachowicz (@DeludedRaven) November 16, 2015
Fortunately for Sheen, a majority of Hollywood's response to his admission has been positive. His friends in the industry, as well as longtime fans, have expressed admiration for his courage in sharing his diagnosis with the masses. Many celebrities, including “Orange Is the New Black” star Laverne Cox, have asked that fans use this as an opportunity to educate themselves about HIV rather than make jokes. Johnson, 56, who went public about his HIV-positive diagnosis in 1991, has been very vocal in his backing of Sheen. He wished the actor and his family the very best, adding that thanks largely to advances in medical technology and medicine, Sheen will likely be able to “live a long life.” Margaret Cho also took the time to tweet a heartfelt message to the star, even offering to “help” him.
Love this article. Language to destigmatize HIV is so vital. https://t.co/0nQRz1dQwg
— Laverne Cox (@Lavernecox) November 17, 2015
I keep thinking about how the world mocked Charlie Sheen when he had his "celebrity melt down." I can't imagine what he was going through.
— Marc Lamont Hill (@marclamonthill) November 17, 2015
I wish @CharlieSheen and his family the best. With the advancement in treatments and medicine he can fight this disease and live a long life
— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) November 17, 2015
Sheen's father, Martin Sheen, has also spoken out in the wake of his son's revelation. While speaking with the Naples Daily News at the eighth annual CME Group's Global Financial Leadership Conference in Naples Tuesday, he said he and the rest of the family had encouraged Charlie to go public with the news. Martin, 75, said he admired his son's courage, saying that kind of bravery could "change the world."
The negative response to Sheen’s diagnosis is unfortunate, but not surprising. HIV has had a longstanding stigma surrounding it, with many under the impression that is is far less common than it really is. According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than 1.2 million people in the United States are living with HIV. One in every eight of those people is unaware that they have contracted the virus. As International Business Times previously reported, Sheen does not have AIDS, which is commonly associated with HIV. He has been prescribed medication that he will have to take for the rest of his life.