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Actor Charlie Sheen revealed that he is HIV-positive after spending more than $10 million to keep the disease a secret, he told the Today Show's Matt Lauer. He said that his diagnosis was a turning point in his life and that he had only trusted the secret to a few people before today, according to the show's website.
Sheen told Lauer that he has known about his diagnosis for four years but spoke out to break free from the prison of extortion. But the revelations raise interesting questions about the legal obligations surrounding sexually transmitted diseases. There are places where failure to disclose lands people in prison.
State HIV Disclosure Laws
Many states have laws that require contacting past sexual partners. A few years ago wrestler Andre Davis was sentenced to 32 years in prison for not making required revelations under Utah law. The Centers for Disease Control collects data on HIV diagnoses but states that it does not share these with anyone. It does warn, however, that many states and even some cities have partner notification laws.
As of 2013, thirty-five states had notification requirements, according to Lambda Legal Defense Fund and ProPublica, a public interest journalism group. These states will prosecute and convict failure to notify partners as a crime.
Sheen says he told his two ex-wives and his daughter about his diagnosis. But the actor is also known for his wild partying and his exes are not his only past partners. Former porn star Bree Olson was reportedly on the Howard Stern show in tears, saying Sheen did not say anything to her about being HIV positive.
Lawsuit in the Offing?
Olson is angry. She said she has been tested for HIV and the results are negative. But, writes TMZ, she is unhappy about her name being associated with the disease now ... which makes her presence on Stern's show seem somewhat strange.
Regardless, Sheen clearly has deep pockets and there may be a lawsuit in the offing. Even if the actor is not criminally prosecuted, he may yet face a "barrage" of civil suits.