Martin Sheen is speaking out for the first time since his son Charlie Sheen revealed that he is HIV-positive.
Speaking on Tuesday during an event at the Ritz-Carlton resort in Naples, Florida, Martin applauded his son’s courage for going public with his diagnosis during an interview with Today’s Matt Lauer: “It was the most difficult thing he’d ever done,” Martin said, according to the Naples Daily News. “And he kind of sealed it when he called Matt Lauer last week and asked if he could go on.”
“He had been leading up to this sort of story for several months, and we kept encouraging him to do it,” said Martin, 75. “And he kept backing away and backing away because it was like going to his own execution, I guess.”
During his interview with Lauer, Charlie said he was diagnosed about four years ago, after he suffered from “crushing headaches and insane migraines and sweating the bed, completely drenched two to three nights in a row.”
The former Two and Half Men star, 50, added he does not “entirely” know how he contracted HIV but maintained he has not transmitted it to anyone else, and said he wants to help people by sharing his story.
Martin said that he didn’t know until the day of that his son would be sharing his diagnosis with the world.
“We didn’t know until he walked on the set this morning that he was going to do it,” he said. “I saw him Saturday night, my wife and I went to see him, to make sure he knew we were behind him, and if he wanted me to go, I would have canceled this event. He said, no, this was his and his alone.”
According to the Naples Daily News, Martin became choked up when discussing the news.
“When someone comes to them-self, they have the moment of clarity, and they reveal their secrets – which all of us have – in public, it is a great sense of relief. It is a miraculous occasion,” Martin said.
“This morning, as I watched him alone, reveal his deepest, darkest secret, I couldn’t believe the level of courage I was witnessing, and that it was my son,” he added.
Martin, a West Wing alum, has been a longtime activist in the fight against HIV and AIDS. Most recently, Sheen partnered with his son Emilio Estevez at an AIDS fundraising event in 2010 in Toronto, where more than $1 million was raised to benefit amfAR.
Martin added that he hopes “that this day is the first day of the rest of Charlie’s life as a free man.”
Charlie, who says he was extorted for an estimated $10 million before finally going public this week, also addressed his current financial status, telling Lauer that “it’s not great” but will “be great again.”
“I’m a survivor. I’ve been up, I’ve been down, I’ve been rich, I’ve been poor. It’s another chapter in my life,” Charlie said.
To learn more about living with HIV/AIDS today and to contribute in the fight against the diseases, visit amfAR.org.