Local doctors say Charlie Sheen’s HIV diagnosis is a necessary conversation in Indiana

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(November 17, 2015) -- Charlie Sheen laid it all out on the table in a national interview Tuesday morning saying he is indeed HIV positive and has been for the past four years.

He says keeping the secret cost him millions. People who knew his secret threatened to expose him. But why is it such a deep dark secret you would pay to keep under wraps? Local infectious disease doctor who says we need to keep the conversation about HIV going and not be ashamed to talk about it.

"I have a responsibility now to better myself and to help a lot of other people," said Sheen.

While it was a devastating diagnosis for the former Two and a Half Men star, local doctors say they're glad he shared his story.

"HIV is an infection or disease that does not discriminate. Anyone is susceptible to HIV. And unfortunately there still is a stigma associated with this infection so conversations about it. Getting tested and knowing your own status," said IU Health Infectious Disease Doctor, Diane Janowicz.

Following the HIV outbreak here at home in Scott County, largely driven by needle-sharing among people injecting a liquefied form of the painkiller opana, infectious disease specialists say this is a conversation Hoosiers should want to have. HIV is no longer a death sentence.

"I make sure to emphasize to that patient that he or she should expect to lead a normal life span as long as they take their medicines everyday," said Dr. Janowicz.

Sheen's doctor says the actor's status is now 'undetectable' that means the virus' levels are below what's detectable by standard lab testing thanks to a three drug cocktail. That treatment is not only reserved for the rich and famous.

"The medications are indeed expensive unfortunately so. But insurance programs will pay for anti-retroviral medications or HIV medicines and for people who don't have insurance there are patient assistance programs," said Dr. Janowicz.

Infectious disease doctors say prevention is key through condoms and needle exchange programs. Also know your status and have open and honest conversations with your partners.