A sexual partner’s failure to disclose his or her HIV positive status is a hot topic right now. Charlie Sheen recently publicly disclosed that he was diagnosed as being HIV positive four years ago. In an interview on the Today show, he said that he had engaged in unprotected sex with only two women since he had been diagnosed. He said that both women were under the care of his doctor and were warned about the diagnosis ahead of time.

Sheen also said that it was impossible that he knowingly transmitted the virus to others. Since his diagnosis, he claims to have paid $10 million to keep people silent about his illness. He says he does not know how he contracted the disease, but that he did not engage in high-risk activities like using intravenous drugs with shared needles.

Currently, Sheen does not have AIDS. Medical advancements have turned HIV into a manageable illness, but antiviral drugs must be taken for a lifetime. Sheen’s doctor says that the actor’s main battle is not related to HIV, but is substance abuse or depression as a result of his diagnosis. Sheen also claims that he disclosed his status to some of his former lovers, including both of his ex-wives.

However, Sheen’s claims that he told both women with whom he had unprotected sex about his HIV positive status have been disputed by one of those women. Bree Olson, a former porn star, lived with him during a tumultuous period of his life, and says that she was never told of his medical condition. She says she lived with him after when he says he received the diagnosis, but knew nothing about his illness. She claims they engaged in sexual relations almost every day for a year, but did not take any precautions to protect against HIV, only pregnancy. She also said they sometimes had unprotected sex, and that he told her he was “clean”.

Olson also alleged that he would wake up in the middle of the night complaining of various medical issues, which he blamed on steroids. She says that a doctor often came to his house and they would meet privately. Olson claims to feel betrayed and angry, although fortunately her HIV test came back negative. Anonymous sources say that Sheen says he did not know of his diagnosis until two weeks after he and Olson broke up. Six women are allegedly planning on suing the actor for intentional infliction of emotional distress, fraud, and sexual battery. There are expected to be many more lawsuits, as some reports say that Sheen was very sexually active with a large number of women after his diagnosis.

Whether or not lawsuits like these will be successful is a complicated issue. In California, having unprotected sex with the specific intent to infect another person with HIV is a felony. However, just because someone knew he was HIV-positive does not mean that he had the intent to infect. In addition, Sheen allegedly has a very small amount of HIV in his blood. Many experts say that in that type of situation, the likelihood of contamination is so tiny, it cannot be considered a criminal act. In addition, if Sheen told his current and former lovers of his diagnosis, as he claims, he could claim that they consented. Legal experts say that these types of lawsuits will not be easily won. Sheen’s reputation as a playboy works in his favor – he can argue his partners should have known he probably had many sexual partners and should have practiced safe sex.

In many cases it is possible to sue a former lover who exposed you to HIV, but those cases can be difficult to win. Also, in many cases the HIV-positive individual will not have sufficient assets to make a lawsuit worth the effort. If you believe that a sexual partner has exposed you to HIV, and did not tell you of his or her diagnosis, call Micha Star Liberty, San Francisco personal injury attorney or Seth I. Rosenberg at 415-896-1000 or 510-645-1000.  She will provide you with a free consultation on your case. Call to learn more.

Organizations & Awards

  • Top Alameda Employment Lawyers

Our Address & Phone

1999 Harrison Street, Suite 1800
Oakland, CA 94612-4700

Oakland (510) 645-1000
San Francisco (415) 896-1000