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AIDS experts applaud Charlie Sheen's HIV announcement

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Actor Charlie Sheen has set off a conversation in both the medical and entertainment communities with his announcement he is HIV positive.

Actor Charlie Sheen has set off a conversation in both the medical and entertainment communities with his announcement he is HIV positive.

Sheen says he went public in part to stop being blackmailed to keep his secret quiet.

But he also hopes to inspire others to be candid about HIV.

Many in the HIV-AIDS community are applauding Sheen, that sharing his status helps lessen the stigma surrounding HIV.

For better or worse, Sheen has been in the public eye for years.

This morning on the Today Show he opened up, saying he was diagnosed with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, about 4 years ago.

"It's a hard three letters to absorb,"said Sheen.

Bert Jackson, a nurse practitioner who specializes in HIV at Einstein Medical Center says there's still a lot fear and negativity surrounding the virus.

"People feel as if they will be treated differently and in some cases, they are treated differently," says Jackson.

But Sheen says HE is now trying to change that.

"I have a responsibility now to better myself and to help a lot of other people," he said in this morning's interview.

Jackson says it will help.

She says Sheen's announcement also raises awareness, sending the message that if someone is diagnosed and treated, they can live a long life.

"HIV can be so easily controlled with proper medication and supervision," says Jackson.

There are more than one-million people in the U.S. living with HIV or AIDS.

But about one in six people who have the virus don't know it.

Jackson hopes this will spark more people to be screened.

"When you don't know you have it, you can't empower yourself to do something about it," she notes.

Screening is now quick and easy, and in many cases, it is free.

She says if more people are screened and treated, it will help to control the spread of the H-I-V virus.

Here are some resources for screening and information:

*Einstein Infectious Diseases, including the Immunodeficinency Center.

*Philadelphia Department of Health

*Philadelphia FIGHT

*CDC HIV/AIDS

*Pa. Dept. of Health HIV Testing

*New Jersey Dept. of Health HIV, STD, and TB Services

*Delaware Dept. of Health HIV/AIDS Program.


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