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Press Release

With Charlie Sheen's HIV Disclosure Raising Questions and Concern, TheBody.com, Largest Online HIV Resource, Offers Expert Information, Perspectives and Support

November 17, 2015

This morning, actor Charlie Sheen spoke with Today show host Matt Lauer to disclose that he was diagnosed with HIV four years ago.

The impact of an HIV diagnosis is different for everyone, but it is never easy.

For many people today, the most significant challenges of living with HIV -- a condition that can usually be easily treated with our current range of effective medications -- come from misinformation and stigma, as well as the risks of loss, discrimination and violence.

"Sheen's fame and notoriety bring an unprecedented level of visibility to the interview," said JD Davids, Managing Editor of TheBody.com, the largest online resource on HIV. "But his recounting of his experiences since he learned his status are familiar to many people with HIV and those who love and care for them, as we see on TheBody.com every day."

"From the dangers of substance use, the impact of depression and the profound role of stigma and fear, to the importance of good care and adherence to daily HIV medication -- and its power to virtually eliminate risk of HIV transmission to others -- Sheen's experience has the potential to raise our understanding of what HIV means today," Davids explained.

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TheBody.com welcomes Sheen's announcement as an important opportunity to share accurate information on HIV, including factors that have changed since the diagnosis of Magic Johnson in 1991:

  • HIV treatment works and is easier to take than ever.
  • People with HIV who take effective treatment -- medications that reduce the amount of virus in their blood to undetectable levels -- have virtually no chance of transmitting the virus to others.
  • People at risk for HIV can remain HIV negative, not only through tools like condoms but also by taking one pill a day that blocks acquisition of HIV.
  • The impact of stigma, discrimination, violence and criminalization (legal charges solely based on HIV status) are among the largest barriers to the health of people with HIV, as well as global elimination of the epidemic.

Sheen's story has important messages as we approach World AIDS Day (December 1) and continue to tackle the persistent HIV epidemic in the United States and worldwide.

The experts at TheBody.com, the Web's largest resource on HIV, are available to provide context and answers to the medical, social, mental health, substance use and cultural issues surrounding Charlie Sheen's announcement that he is living with HIV. In addition to our substantive wealth of online materials, experts available for interviews have offered statements below:


JD Davids Is the Managing Editor for TheBody.com/TheBodyPRO.com.

editor@thebody.com; @JDatTheBody; 646-431-7525

Davids holds more than two decades of experience in HIV/AIDS advocacy and health communications and has served as an expert community advisor to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Davids has provided perspectives on HIV for AP, NPR, The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Al Jazeera and many other media outlets.

JD Davids' Statement

The impact of an HIV diagnosis is different for everyone, but it is never easy.

For many people today, the most significant challenges of living with HIV -- a condition that can usually be easily treated with our current range of effective medications -- come from misinformation and stigma, as well as the risks of loss, discrimination and violence.

We now have the opportunity to learn and share the truth about HIV in the current era, rather than playing into the stubborn, outdated stereotypes that are associated with those who struggled with HIV in the decades before safe, effective treatment became widely available in the U.S.

Why is this vital? It will ensure that each person has accurate information when they speak about HIV, and that each of us can act with our best selves in supporting those living with HIV or those at risk of HIV acquisition. But also, it's also the only way we are going to stop the HIV epidemic once and for all: Stigma and misinformation, along with lack of resources to extend care to all in need, are now our biggest barriers.

As we have done every day for 25 years, TheBody.com will continue to provide accurate and accessible information, perspectives and support to people with HIV, their loved ones, families, communities and care providers.


David Fawcett, Ph.D., L.C.S.W., Is the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Expert for TheBody.com. He Is Also Living With HIV.

DavidFawcettPhD@gmail.com; @drdavidfawcett; 954-701-3700

Dr. Fawcett is an author, certified sex therapist and clinical hypnotherapist in private practice in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. He has answered thousands of questions about HIV, substance abuse and mental health on TheBody.com. He is the author of Lust, Men, and Meth: A Gay Man's Guide to Sex and Recovery. In his latest feature for TheBody.com, he shares his own struggle with having detectable viral load.

He has worked in the areas of mental health and substance abuse for more than 25 years in numerous settings, including inpatient and outpatient programs.

Dr. Fawcett's Statement

Four years after his HIV diagnosis, Charlie Sheen has publicly stepped forward into the community of people living with HIV. Having been the subject of stories about drug use and sexual behavior in the past, today he explained to Today show host Matt Lauer that his diagnosis brought on "karmic confusion, shame and anger [that] led to a temporary yet abysmal descent into profound substance abuse and abysmal drinking."

After receiving an HIV diagnosis, a person often numbs feelings with substance abuse. The combination of addiction and mental health concerns frequently leads to high-risk sexual behaviors.

Drug use, sex and HIV are hot-button issues that arouse intense feelings, but at the center of this intersection are real lives -- as well as consequences that can ripple out across families, communities and broader society. In this moment, we are ready with information and support for those facing the challenges of drug use, depression and HIV, and standing up against stigma and shame.

We can best unravel the web of drug use, depression and HIV -- and support the individuals, families and communities who are affected -- through accurate information and compassionate, informed support. Help is available, and there is a path out of shame and into recovery and health.


Benjamin Young, M.D., Is the "Choosing Your Meds" Expert for TheBody.com, the Web's Most Comprehensive Resource on HIV.

benjaminyoungmd@gmail.com, @benyoungmd; 303-513-9373

Dr. Young is the Chief Medical Officer of the International Association of Providers of AIDS Care (IAPAC), one of the world's largest organizations of HIV health care providers. As one of the longest standing contributors to TheBody.com, he has provided sound medical information to thousands, explained research findings and shared global perspectives on HIV. He is also an adjunct professor at the Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver and an assistant clinical professor of medicine at the University of Colorado. Dr. Young provides care for people living with HIV at APEX Family Medicine in Denver.

Dr. Young's Statement

People living with HIV today can expect to live a long and healthy life, thanks to our advances in treatment and care. Many people on treatment take just one pill a day, and the level of virus in their blood becomes so low that it becomes undetectable -- and that means they are no longer at significant risk of transmitting HIV to others.

What's more, people who don't have HIV can completely avoid the risk of getting it, not only through using condoms or other longstanding means of prevention, but also by taking a daily medication, called Truvada, that has been shown to effectively block HIV transmission.

HIV remains a significant condition affecting millions worldwide, but treating and preventing HIV today is not the puzzle it once was. The major barriers are not medical. They are social and economic: It is stigma, and a lack of resources to extend care to all, that stand in the way of ending the AIDS epidemic worldwide.


Resources From TheBody.com

  • New Tools for HIV Prevention: A Quick Primer on a Hot Topic (Video, 1 min, 32 sec)
    On the Today show, Charlie Sheen and his physician discussed the realities of "treatment as prevention": people living with HIV on effective treatment who have undetectable viral load are at virtually no risk of transmitting HIV to others.

    Stopping the transmission of HIV is not solely the job of either people with HIV or those who are HIV negative. And today it may be easier than many people think.

    In the vast majority of cases, people with HIV can stop transmission of the virus just by adhering to their HIV medications. Now, HIV-negative people can also stop transmission of the virus with medication called pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP.

    This engaging, short animated sequence explains treatment as prevention as well as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), in which people who are HIV negative use treatment to prevent HIV.
  • How Can I Prevent HIV Transmission? (Infographic)
    Integrating all major forms of HIV transmission and prevention in one engaging, lighthearted chart, this infographic shows how to prevent HIV transmission before, during and after exposure.
  • Intimacy Across HIV Statuses (Slideshow)
    Throughout the history of HIV, the condition has had a profound impact on relationships. But today, we have the science on HIV and prevention to drop the fear of infection, and to love out loud. New treatment options and more choices for effective HIV prevention are bringing partners together -- forging stronger ties, deepening intimacy and, yes, helping sex feel better, too.
  • Aaron Laxton: Overcoming Depression and Drug Use, and Living With HIV
    After a traumatic childhood, Aaron Laxton had to overcome a military discharge, depression and drug use to come to terms with his HIV diagnosis. Today, he lives a healthy and vibrant life with his HIV-negative partner Philip, and works with homeless veterans facing similar challenges. In this immersive video, Aaron and Philip share their story.
  • HIV Prevention Portal
    The best of the Web on HIV prevention, with features, infographics, video and links to a wealth of content.
  • TheBody.com's "Ask the Experts" Forums
    For decades, TheBody.com has been a reliable and accessible resource for people seeking clear answers about HIV. Whether asking about the risk of a personal encounter to finding the best possible treatment to stay healthy when living with HIV or more, our experts are on the ready to answer a myriad of concerns and queries.
  • Personal Stories of People Affected by HIV
    The real life stories of people with HIV are a source of support for others, and a counterbalance to misinformation, stigma and fear. TheBody.com has a range of stories from people with HIV, and continues to reach out to encourage people to share what's meaningful in their lives.


Copyright © 2015 Remedy Health Media, LLC. All rights reserved.


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