Charlie Sheen
Charlie Sheen, photographed at the Elton John AIDS Foundation Academy Awards viewing party in West Hollywood, California, on Feb. 28, 2016, hopes to channel his HIV-positive diagnosis into something constructive. Getty Images

Charlie Sheen shocked fans in November, appearing on national television to confirm for the first time that he is HIV positive. Since then he has aligned himself with celebrities like Doctor Oz and brands to search for a cure and promote a positive message — something he hopes to continue doing.

In an interview with People magazine, the former “Two and a Half Men” star touched on his past, which included several very public meltdowns Sheen claimed were attempts to get attention. He told the publication that after learning that he’d been diagnosed with HIV, he decided to use his platform to serve “a greater calling.” Sheen claims that making news of his disease publicly set him “free.” The actor told People he felt he had no other option but to come clean, comparing living with the ailment secretly to “prison.” Sheen, 50, said that he’s received “nothing but love and support” since speaking out.

“There were so many parasites and traitors, that were allies at one point, who saw it as an opportunity for their own gain. I just thought: The best way to put a stop to that and to be free and alleviate all this other crap I was dealing with was to come out,” he said.

Few were aware of Sheen’s status until his 2015 announcement. There were, however, several people close to him who had been let in on his secret. According to a report from Radar Online, released shortly after Sheen’s revelation, ex-wife Brooke Mueller was aware of her former husband’s health issues. The publication obtained text messages from Mueller that further confirmed Sheen’s battle with HIV, detailing a drug-fueled night that took place after she learned of his diagnosis.

“I had a drug-induced psychotic break at Charlie’s after doing drugs with Charlie for that many days. I couldn’t handle the HIV news. Just six months ago I was diagnosed with the eye disease and then Charlie potentially giving me HIV….” one message reportedly read.

As Sheen noted in his interview with People, rumors circulated about his health prior to his confirmation. The actor did not address rumors, regardless of their severity or absurdity, until he appeared on the “Today” show with Matt Lauer on November 17, 2015.