Charlie Sheen appeared on TODAY on Tuesday to reveal to the world that he is HIV positive.
The star told Matt Lauer that he was diagnosed around four years ago and chose to come forward after being the target of shakedowns for years by people threatening to expose his condition.
"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 said.
Sheen, a well-known party boy since becoming a household names in the 1980s, said he doesn't know how he contracted the disease.
He told Lauer his ex-wives Denise Richards and Brooke Mueller--with whom he shares a total of four children--were already aware of his diagnosis.
And others did, too. He said he entrusted the information to a group of people very close to him--some of whom have since betrayed his trust.
"I trusted them and they were deep in my inner circle, and I thought they could be helpful," he said. "My trust turned to their treason."
By telling the world he's HIV positive, Sheen said he's putting a stop to the extortion. He told Lauer he's paid "upwards of $10 million" in hush money.
The actor wrote a letter detailing his personal struggle with the disease and how he came to terms with living with HIV:
"In and around this perplexing and difficult time, I dazedly chose (or hired) the companionship of unsavory and insipid types. Regardless of their salt-less reputations, I always lead with condoms and honesty when it came to my condition. Sadly, my truth soon became their treason, as a deluge of blackmail and extortion took center stage in this circus of deceit.
"To date, I have paid out countless millions to these desperate charlatans.
"Locked in a vacuum of fear, I chose to allow their threats and skullduggery to vastly deplete future assets from my children, while my "secret" sat entombed in their hives of folly. (or so I thought)
"News Flash: This ends today. I'm claiming back my freedom. The scales of justice will swiftly and righteously rebalance themselves."