Charlie Sheen's announcement yesterday that he is HIV positive has been praised by former Who's the Boss
star Danny Pintauro, whose own announcement that he is living with the virus attracted global coverage last month.
Sheen revealed that he was diagnosed with HIV four years ago in a frank interview with the Today show's Matt Lauer
yesterday (November 17), admitting he'd spent "millions" trying to silence blackmailers who'd threatened to reveal his status.
Now Pintauro, who made headlines around the world after opening up about his crystal meth addiction and HIV status in a candid interview with Oprah
in September, says that Sheen's announcement leaves society poised to change the way it treats people living with the virus.
"This morning while I watched Charlie speak with Matt Lauer, my heart was racing. I have been there and I know that feeling. The sheer terror followed by sudden relief is powerful and life changing," the former Who's the Boss
star told US Weekly
in a statement.
"To have Matt read those supportive tweets must have instantly affirmed to Charlie that he had made the right decision by sharing his truth.
"It took me 12 years to get to a place where I was ready to tell the world, but in all of that time I worried that someone else would want to tell my story without my permission, which is why I decided it was time to take control of my story and sit down with Oprah.
"I commend Charlie for realising it was time to take control of his story."
He continued: "The effect stigma has on HIV has never been clearer – as Charlie’s story indicates, people will go to great lengths to keep others from knowing their status.
"There are currently 1.2 million people living with HIV in the U.S. Sadly too many are afraid to share their status even with those closest to them. How many people are so terrified of the stigma surrounding “those three letters” that they can’t even bring themselves to get tested in the first place?
"I believe we are on the verge of changing the way people look at HIV and I couldn’t be more fired up to do my part to affect that change."
In an open letter
to the media, Sheen admitted that his diagnosis left him suicidal and abusing alcohol and drugs, but that he now wants to help others living with the virus.
"I accept this condition not as a curse or scourge, but rather as an opportunity and a challenge. An opportunity to help others. A challenge to better myself," he wrote.
"My partying days are behind me. My philanthropic days are ahead of me."
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