American actor, Charlie Sheen, reveals he is HIV positive

American actor, Charlie Sheen, has reveled he is HIV positive, ending weeks of speculation about his health status.

“I would like to admit that I am in fact HIV positive,” he told the Today show on NBC on Tuesday. “It’s a hard three letters to absorb.”

He explained why he had to come out about his status.

“I have to put a stop to this onslaught, this barrage of attacks and of sub-truths and very harmful and mercurial stories that are about me, that threaten the health of so many others that couldn’t be further from the truth.”

He went on to say he told those he thought he could trust at the time, but was ultimately mistaken, as he said that he’s been extorted for “millions” of dollars in order to keep his diagnosis a secret.

The Golden Globe winner Golden Globe winner confessed to having been blackmailed for up to $10 million

“We’re talking about shakedowns,” the actor explained to Matt Lauer and confirmed that a sex worker he hired took a photo of the anti-viral medication in his bathroom and threatened to sell the photo to the tabloids.

“Having divulged [my diagnosis] is the reason I’m in the mess that I’m in with all the shakedowns,” he explained. “Again, I can’t sit here and worry about it. I can only sit here with you and tell my truth.”

Sheen also said he’s not sure how he contracted the virus. “It started with what I thought was a series of crushing headaches. I thought I had a brain tumour. I thought it was over,” he said.

And while Sheen said he hasn’t knowingly transmitted the virus, he admitted to having unprotected sex twice since learning of this diagnosis, however, both people were aware of his status ahead of time.

Sheen said his goal in disclosing his diagnosis is to put an end to the extortion and blackmail, and hopes that going public will help dispel the stigma surrounding the disease.

“I have a responsibility now to better myself and to help a lot of other people and hopefully with what we’re doing today others will come forward and say, thanks Charlie,” he said.

After Lauer read some supportive comments from social media, Sheen said is hoping he can use it to help spread awareness.

“I’m gonna ride this wave of support, and if there was one guy on this planet to contract this that’s going to deliver a cure, it’s me,” he said. “I mean, seriously.”

NBC News had announced Monday that Sheen will make a “revealing personal announcement” in an exclusive, live sit-down interview on Tuesday with Matt Lauer, but did not provide further details.

Sheen, 50, who in 2011 lost his starring role on Two and a Half Men amidst a notorious public meltdown, has remained largely out of the spotlight after FX decided not to renew his most recent show Anger Management, in late 2014.

It was announced in October 2014 that he and adult film star Brett Rossi ended their eight-month engagement.

TMZ reported that the actor Carlos Irwin Estévez kept his HIV status under wraps, but everything unravelled when some former partners threatened him with lawsuits.

“As we reported, Charlie will appear on “Today” and reveal he’s HIV positive. We’re told he’s known about his status for more than a year and he kept a lid on the information.

“We’re told things changed when Charlie confided in several friends he thought were confidants … it turned out they weren’t, and spread the word he was HIV positive,” wrote the online tabloid.

That led to several of Charlie’s former partners contacting him and threatening a lawsuit because they were unaware of his status when they had interaction with him. Charlie settled several of the cases and, in return for money, got confidentiality agreements.

Though HIV-positive, the star is said to be telling people his health is on the upswing, a source with knowledge of the situation told PEOPLE.

“He is saying there is virtually no trace of HIV in his blood. He’s taking antiretroviral and is sticking to the regime, he says,” the source told PEOPLE. “He is telling people the virus is now undetectable.”

Sheen flew from Los Angeles to New York Monday ahead of his interview with Matt Lauer.

“He’s still HIV-positive. But he isn’t about to slow down,” the source said.

Earlier Monday, a source told PEOPLE that Sheen’s ex Denise Richards had known about the actor’s diagnosis for years.

“He was infected after they divorced, and they haven’t been intimate since,” said the source. “Neither she nor their daughters (Sam, 11, and Lola, 9) are HIV-positive.”

Sheen has long struggled with substance abuse and has admitted to soliciting prostitutes in the past. But Sheen’s former girlfriend Natalie Kenly told PEOPLE Monday that she does not believe he’d be recklessly promiscuous.

“He has regard for human beings and cares about people. I do not see him knowingly putting women at risk,” she told PEOPLE.

Ex-girlfriend, Bree Olson, took to Twitter on Monday to reveal that she was getting tested for the disease.

“Recorded myself for half an hour being tested for HIV and getting the results. This is so stressful,” Olson, 29, wrote.

Days before the news went public, Olson shared a message on her website, ensuring her fans that did not have the virus.

“There are speculations circling that one of my ex-boyfriends from years ago may have contracted the HIV virus. They are rumors and I know nothing more than anyone else,” the former porn star wrote. “I, myself have been to my gynecologist at least once a year since we split up and have always been tested across the board for everything and have came back clean across the board every time.”

Olson, whose real name is Rachel Oberlin, lived with Sheen in 2011 as one of the “goddesses” in his Los Angeles home following his public meltdown and firing from Two and a Half Men.

Olson did not tweet the results of her test, but top Hollywood publicist and crisis manager Howard Bragman said that Sheen’s going public may garner sympathy from the actor but can also open him up to lawsuits from former partners.

“The interview could open up a lot of sympathy for him, but he has to be concerned about a fear of litigation from former sexual partners,” Bragman said. “You don’t take that lightly.”

The son of actor Martin Sheen and brother of actor Emilio Estevez, Charlie’s film credits includes Major League, Hot Shots and Being John Malkovich.