Charlie Sheen was right all along, at least, according to the assistant commissioner of the Bureau of HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control at the New York City’s Department of Health.
In 2015, the "Two And a Half Men" star told NBC’s "Today" show host Matt Lauer that he was HIV-positive. In the interview, Sheen said that it was “impossible” for him to pass on the disease to others. His doctor Robert Huizenga told Lauer, “Individuals who are optimally treated, who have undetected viral loads, 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.”
Sheen was mauled by social media for supposedly spreading nonsense. The star, however, tweeted a report Thursday that featured an NYC health official who backed “negligible” transmission.
HIV patients with undetectable viral levels like Sheen who regularly take their medication “cannot actively transmit HIV, and we should not treat them that way,” Dr. Demetre Daskalakis reportedly said recently.
“Our job in NYC is to lead the nation with data, rather than fear. Our department operates from a base in science, and the science on this is consistently clear,” he added.
Daskalakis is the first major public health official in the U.S. to endorse “negligible” transmission. Although he warns people against ditching protection, he believes that this news will help reduce the stigma faced by HIV-positive people.
“People who are successfully managing their HIV are not disease spreaders,” Daskalakis said. “They’re responsible New Yorkers taking care of themselves and their communities.”
Meanwhile, an ongoing study released new data at the 21st International AIDS Conference last month in South Africa supporting the statement. It found, two years ago, that the chances of an HIV-positive person with an undetectable viral load passing on the virus to another person was very low. However, the researchers added that more data is required before their findings can be considered conclusive. The study will continue until 2017 with the final data set to be presented in 2018.