• National Enquirer, Radar Online out Sheen as actor with HIV
• Star is set to do tell-all interview on US Today show
• He has boasted of sleeping with more than 5000 women
• He is said to be facing financial ruin over illness
• He could be jailed if failed to disclose HIV to partners
Police have said they will investigate Charlie Sheen over allegations he slept with women while HIV positive, it has been reported.
Radar Online executive editor Lachlan Cartwright made the revelation after the National Enquirer claimed that Sheen was the mystery Hollywood star who was reported last week to have been diagnosed with the potentially deadly virus.
Sheen, 50, has a string of high-profile ex-wives and girlfriends, including Denise Richards and Brooke Mueller, and has boasted of sleeping with more than 5000 women.
"Charlie thought he was indestructible and took no precautions - even though he was indulging in high-risk sex practices," a friend was quoted as telling the Enquirer.
Sheen is set to do a tell-all interview with Matt Lauer on the Today show in the US on Tuesday (early Wednesday NZ time), where it is expected he will confirm the diagnosis.
Network NBC hasn't confirmed what Sheen will discuss on the show, but The Hollywood Reporter suggested it would be a "revealing personal announcement".
Cartwright told TV3 this morning why they went ahead with the Sheen story.
"We learned just a couple of hours ago that Charlie Sheen is going to go on the Today Show tomorrow morning in an exclusive sit-down interview with Matt Lauer, he is going to confirm what we have been reporting on, and what we haven't been able to tell the public, which is that he is HIV positive. This is a measure by his camp to downplay the story, to spin the story.
"There are very serious ramifications for Charlie Sheen because we now know that he had been sleeping with women, in Hollywood, and not disclosing his HIV status, and that is a crime in California. Police sources are telling us today that they will now investigate this. We know that there were at least four women, four women who spoke to us that said they had sex, unprotected sex, with Charlie Sheen, during the period in which we now know he was HIV positive."
He said his reporters went to great lengths over 18 months to verify the story.
"We put people under polygraph tests, we verified their stories looking at their movements, their text messages, we've seen messages that Charlie had sent different women, we know that a number of these women were paid off, we've seen contracts to support that. This has been a very thorough and a very dogged investigation involving a number of reporters out of the Enquirer and Radar's team."
He said Sheen was in "financial ruin, which is extraordinary because he was at one point the highest-paid TV actor, raking in about $1.8 million an episode when he was on the top rating Anger Management. But we know he paid off at least $5 million in legal fees and pay-outs for these women, and that's going to increase after today's news because more women, we are sure, are going to come forward, and then there will be this criminal probe where he potentially faces charges. So it's an extraordinary story. He spent the last three and a bit years covering it up and today the truth has come to light."
Last week, a "Hollywood superstar" with a string of famous former girlfriends was reportedly outed as having HIV by the Sun, which reported the actor was unwilling to admit the diagnosis publicly for fear of lawsuits from the women.
The Sun claimed to know the actor's identity and reported an "insider" saying that it was something "he had known for a number of years.
"His lawyers are bracing for the threat of potential action. The reality is that if he's knowingly put women at risk then that's disgusting and it's only a matter of time before that becomes public," the insider claimed.
Sheen has been married three times and has five children: a daughter with Paula Profit, two daughters with Denise Richards; and twin boys with third wife Brooke Mueller.
He was also engaged to adult film star Scottine Ross last year, but called it off in October.
Sheen is well known for a string of wayward interviews he conducted after he was axed from his top-rating TV show Two and a Half Men in 2011.
He told the Today show he had "tiger blood and Adonis DNA".
During Two and a Half Men's run as America's top-rating show, Sheen was reportedly earning US$1.25 million per episode.
After he was fired, he was replaced by Ashton Kutcher, but ratings took a dive and the show finished in February this year.
Sheen went on to star in two seasons of Anger Management, which broke cable viewing records but ended in 2014.
HIV and the law
Those who are HIV positive who fail to disclose their status with a sexual partner or who bite or spit on another could face lengthy jail sentences, be put on the sexual offenders register and even be charged with the possession of a "biological weapon".
According to the Centre for HIV Law and Policy there are 32 states and two US territories with HIV-specific criminal statutes. Thirty-six states have reported proceedings in which HIV people have been arrested and prosecuted for consensual sex while failing to disclose, biting and spitting. At least 180 of these were between 2008 to 2013. While several states have made it illegal to spit and bite when HIV positive the centre said there was only a remote possibility of HIV being transmitted this way.
Many who are convicted on these charges are imprisoned for decades, some even have to register as sex offenders.
Recent prosecutions from the Centre for HIV Law and Policy include:
• A man with HIV in Texas is serving 35 years for spitting at a police officer
• A man with HIV in Iowa received a 25-year sentence after a one-time sexual encounter during which he had used a condom. His sentence was suspended, but he had to register as a sex-offender and was not allowed unsupervised contact with his nieces, nephews and other young children
• A woman with HIV in Georgia received an eight-year sentence for failing to disclose her HIV status
• A man with HIV in Michigan was charged under the state's anti-terrorism statute with possession of a "biological weapon" after he supposedly bit his neighbour.
In New Zealand, the Crimes Act of 1961 states HIV positive people are "under a legal duty to take reasonable precautions against transmitting infection and to use reasonable care to avoid such danger".
A charge of criminal nuisance is applicable if HIV has not been transmitted, but the defendant did not take these reasonable precautions, such as the use of good quality condoms.
If HIV was transmitted those responsible could be charged with wounding with intent or reckless disregard and could face up to seven years jail.
If the court finds transmission was intentional there could be more serious charges and consequences of up to 14 years in jail.
HIV positive people do not need to disclose their status if they use condoms, nor do they need to declare their HIV status before performing oral sex.
However, in New Zealand there have been a number of court cases and convictions against HIV positive people who did not use condoms and did not declare their HIV status before engaging in sex.
One of the first in New Zealand to have been charged with HIV-related offences was Kenyan Musician Peter Mwai, who was sentenced to seven years jail for having unprotected sex with five women and infecting two in 1994.
He was deported to Uganda in June 1998 where he died a few months after his release
More recently, Auckland train driver Glenn Richard Albert Mills, 40, faced 28 charges related to 14 people. He was found dead in his prison cell in November 2009 the same day he was due to appear in court.
Sheen: the talented but volatile star
Charlie Sheen stars in the 1987 film, Wall Street, as a junior stock-broker who desperate to succeed becomes involved with a wealthy, unscrupulous corporate raider.
Two and a Half Men: A compilation of Sheen's funniest moments on the series that he starred on until his controversial departure in 2011.
Leaving Two and a Half Men: Sheen went on the offensive after he quit Two and a Half Men - a show which reportedly earned him $US2 million an episode.