Charlie Sheen says he has been HIV-positive for four years

PHOTO: http://mctdirect.com/visuals/search.php?type=visual&query=Charlie%20Sheen&features[]=krtphotos&features[]=krtphotosliveBy Stephen Battaglio

Actor Charlie Sheen is publicly acknowledging that he has been HIV-positive for four years.

Sheen told Matt Lauer during a live interview on Tuesday’s “Today” show that he is revealing his condition in order to end extortion threats that have cost him millions of dollars.

The “Two and a Half Men” star said he was given the HIV diagnosis four years ago when he entered the hospital concerned about migraines and night sweats. “I thought I had a brain tumor,” he said.

Nervous and stuttering throughout the interview, held live in the “Today” studio, Sheen said, “It’s a hard three letters to absorb. It’s a turning point of one’s life.”

Sheen confided his condition to several people in his inner circle, some of whom demanded payment to remain silent.

“We’re talking about shakedowns,” he said.

He confirmed a story of a prostitute who took a cellphone picture of his anti-retroviral medications and threatened to sell it to the tabloids.

Sheen said he is no longer going to pay the extortion demands.

“I release myself from this prison today,” he said.

Sheen said it was “impossible” for him to have transmitted the virus to a partner even though he has had unprotected sex.

Sheen’s physician, Dr. Robert Huizenga, appeared on “Today” and said the drugs have suppressed the virus. He said Sheen has an “undetectable level” of the virus in his blood.

“He does not have AIDS,” Huizenga declared.

The doctor said he is more concerned about depression and substance abuse related to Sheen’s response to learning he has HIV.

Sheen said he was not “entirely sure” how he had contracted the virus.

Sheen, 50, is a Hollywood star whose resume includes such hits as “Wall Street” and “Platoon.” But his best-known role is as the lothario on the long-running situation comedy “Two and a Half Men,” which for years made him the highest paid star on television.