NBC/Today

Actor Charlie Sheen confirmed that he is living with HIV on the Today show Tuesday morning.

"I'm here to admit that I am in fact HIV positive," Sheen said. "It's a hard three letters to absorb. It's a turning point in one's life."

The former Two and a Half men star told host Matt Lauer that he learned he was HIV positive four years ago, although he does "not entirely" know how he contracted the virus. He also revealed that he has been the target of "shakedowns" from people hoping to blackmail him about his diagnosis.

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"I think I release myself from this prison today," he said. "I have a responsibility now to better myself and help a lot of other people."

Today announced on Monday that Sheen would participate in a live, sit-down interview, in which he would make a "revealing personal announcement." Within the hour, The National Enquirer and TMZ had reported that Sheen would disclose that he is HIV positive.

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"The interview could open up a lot of sympathy for him," Hollywood publicist and crisis manager Howard Bragman told People yesterday, "but he has to be concerned about a fear of litigation from former sexual partners. You don't take that lightly."

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