Actor Charlie Sheen settled a 2017 lawsuit filed by an ex-girlfriend who alleged he knowingly exposed her to HIV during condomless sex. As part of the settlement, the actor agreed to pay the woman a total of $120,000, delivered in monthly installments of $10,000, reports TMZ, which obtained the legal documents.
The woman, known as Jane Doe but described as a “Russian émigré” in the legal filings, according to Page Six, said she met the actor in September 2015 and they began having a sexual relationship. At the beginning of the relationship, they allegedly used condoms, but then ditched them within two months.
Before the condomless sex, she allegedly asked whether he had any sexually transmitted infections, and he assured her he was “fine.” After having sex, Sheen confessed that he in fact was HIV positive and that he had known his status since 2011. She reportedly sought preventive care from an emergency room. What’s more, when she confronted him, Sheen allegedly said that it wasn’t necessary to take antiretrovirals—HIV meds—and that the lifesaving drugs were part of “the convenient rumors of the medical community,” Page Six reports.
The actor made national headlines just weeks after the argument when on November 17, 2015, Two and a Half Men star publicly disclosed his HIV status during an interview with Matt Lauer on Today. You can watch that clip below:
The disclosure put HIV in the public discourse and made Sheen one of the most famous people in the world to be openly living with HIV. His storyline was not without controversy, though: Several women alleged that he failed to disclose his status and put them at risk; Sheen, meanwhile, promoted quack science and unfounded medical treatments. For more on that, read the POZ blog post “Charlie Sheen Shits on 30 Years of AIDS Activism” from January 2016 by activist Peter Staley.
Some good did come from Sheen’s public disclosure: It led to a spike in the sales of home HIV testing kits.
It’s worth noting that condomless sex is not necessarily unprotected or unsafe sex. That’s because a person living with HIV who takes antiretrovirals and fully suppresses the virus to an undetectable level doesn’t transmit HIV sexually, a fact referred to as Undetectable Equals Untransmittable, or U=U.
The fact of U=U started to gain widespread knowledge after 2016, when a group of advocates and researchers at the Prevention Access Campaign launched the U=U movement to get the word out. It is now a global campaign based on a growing body of science and data. You can read a collection of articles and testimonies on the topic on the Undetectable = Untransmittable POZ blog.
Reporting on the Sheen lawsuit doesn’t mention whether his viral load was suppressed during the alleged condomless sexual encounters.
For a collection of related articles in POZ, click #Charlie Sheen. And to read about other celebrity news related to HIV, click #Celebrities. You’ll find articles about Magic Johnson, Lil Nas X, Billy Porter, Oliva Newton-John, Freddy Mercury, Elton John, baseball icon Glenn Burke, The Real World reality stars Danny Roberts and Pedro Zamora and many others.