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Charlie Sheen’s HIV status is in spotlight ahead of ‘Today’ appearance

The verifiable Charlie Sheen news on Monday: He’s going live on the “Today” show Tuesday to make what NBC describes as a “revealing personal announcement.”

What’s making that news highly noteworthy? Numerous allegations, unconfirmed by the Los Angeles Times, that the notorious playboy is HIV-positive and has known it for a while now — while many of his sex partners might not have.

Charlie Sheen attends the Los Angeles premiere of "Scary Movie V" at the Cinerama Dome in Los Angeles in 2013. Sheen is set to "make a revealing personal announcement" on NBC's "Today" show on Tuesday. (Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

Charlie Sheen attends the Los Angeles premiere of “Scary Movie V” at the Cinerama Dome in Los Angeles in 2013. Sheen is set to “make a revealing personal announcement” on NBC’s “Today” show on Tuesday. (Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

Inklings of the story bubbled up late last week, when the Sun in Britain reported that a “superstar womaniser” in Hollywood was HIV-positive. The tabloid’s source said the “straight man” — whom it did not identify — was concerned about possible lawsuits from women he’d slept with as well as worried about the effect such a revelation would have on his career.

On Monday morning Pacific Time, the National Enquirer, citing an 18-month investigation, named Sheen in a story alleging that the 50-year-old is HIV-positive and had known for four years.

Around the same time, NBC announced Sheen’s scheduled “Today” appearance. The New York Daily News said the tabloid had rushed to release its cover story out a couple of days ahead of time to try to stay ahead of the actor’s revelation.

The Daily News’ source said Sheen had been threatening to sue the Enquirer, but the tabloid got the go-ahead from its legal counsel to publish its story after assembling emails, text messages and on-the-record interviews.

Well-known publicist and crisis manager Howard Bragman told People on the record Monday afternoon that he’d been approached by people close to Sheen about six months ago regarding handling the revelation. He did not, however, ever deal with the actor directly, he said.

“It’s been going on for quite awhile,” Bragman told the magazine after noting that he’d heard Sheen was getting treatment. “He’s not necessarily comfortable talking about it. It was very hard to get up the courage for him to talk about it.”

Publicist Jeffrey Ballard, who’d been representing Sheen as recently as June, said Monday in a statement that he and his friend of 35 years had “parted ways” professionally after disagreeing on how to handle “a situation.” Sheen was previously represented for seven years by Stan Rosenfield, who “respectfully resigned” from that position during Sheen’s, ahem, bad patch in early 2011.

The expected revelation may, according to a TMZ source, have been prompted by lawsuit threats from former partners who supposedly got wind of Sheen’s alleged HIV status after the actor told some friends who didn’t keep the information to themselves.

The Enquirer alleged that Sheen has slept with many women without disclosing his HIV status and has spent millions to keep his secret a secret. The publication said it first approached Sheen about his health in November 2014.

On Monday afternoon, TMZ was reporting that treatment had rendered the virus “undetectable” in the actor’s blood. The Enquirer had said the same but noted that undetectable wasn’t the same as negative.

Ex-fiancee Scottine Ross, who was known as Scottine Sheen when she and the actor were engaged and before that performed in adult films under the name Brett Rossi, is among those unaware of her former lover’s HIV status, according to the Enquirer, which said it has video of her blasting him for exposing her to the virus for a year and a half.

Without naming names, porn star Bree Olson, one of Sheen’s ex-girlfriends, posted on her website Friday — People picked up on that one — that she knew nothing more than anyone else about rumors that one of her exes had contracted HIV. She said she has tested negative multiple times since they split.

Olson was one of Sheen’s notorious “goddesses” in 2011 after he lost what was then TV’s highest-paying gig, and she traveled with him on the “Violent Torpedo of Truth/Defeat Is Not an Option” tour that ensued. He said that April from the road that she’d dumped him by text message.

On Monday afternoon, RadarOnline, which is the Enquirer’s online sibling, posted a shot of an undated text message alleged to be from Brooke Mueller, Sheen’s third wife, to Sheen’s former assistant. In the message, which appears to be discussing a drug binge with Sheen, the author says she “couldn’t handle the HIV news” and the idea of “Charlie potentially giving me HIV.”

Mueller gave birth to Bob and Max, her 6-year-old twin sons with Sheen, in March 2009. He was infamously arrested in December of that year on suspicion of domestic abuse; their divorce was final in 2011.

Denise Richards, Sheen’s second wife and mother of his daughters Sam and Lola, has known about her ex-husband’s alleged HIV status for a “number of years,” according to an “Access Hollywood” source. An Us Weekly source said the girls are fine, because Sheen didn’t contract the virus until “four years ago or so,” long after he and Richards had split. She filed for divorce in 2005, and the dissolution of marriage was finalized in 2006.

Of course, “four years ago or so” would have been sometime in 2011, the year Sheen was fired from “Two and a Half Men” during a sex-and-drugs-fueled meltdown that gave the word “winning” new meaning in American pop culture.