According to Washington Post columnist Lonnae O'Neal, Charlie Sheen is a victim. Raised in Beverly Hills by the Hollywood set, sharing famous father Martin Sheen's movie star good looks, and success as an award winning actor with both a highly successful movie career (lead character in Best Picture “Platoon” (1986); opposite Michael Douglas's Oscar-winning performance in “Wall Street” (1987)) as well as being a one-time highest paid TV actor at $2 million per episode. Further, a previous marriage to fellow actress, former Bond girl bombshell Denise Richards wasn't half bad either. Indeed, by any rational standard, Mr. Sheen the younger, has led a very charmed life.
Yes, Charlie had the world on a string—and understandably millions would have traded places with him. Many brave souls among us probably still would despite Mr. Sheen's new public disclosure as HIV positive. After all, while not cured, there are effective treatments. Likewise, the very real terror of the disco era late 70's and early 80's and the stigma faced by Rock Hudson and Freddie Mercury is nothing compared to the educated and tolerant attitudes of today.
Per 2012 World Health Organization (WHO) figures HIV is the 6th leading cause of deaths worldwide at 1.5 million. So, the threat—same as the stigma—has receded, but remains real. Yet, Charlie Sheen should not be portrayed as a victim due to his poor personal life choices. With this wrong-headed assertion, Ms. O'Neal has missed the mark: the true victims here are Mr. Sheen's sexual partners—who did not know about his status—and may have contracted the virus from him. In the final analysis public health trumps “sick” secret shame every time.