Well-known for his porn star companions, Charlie Sheen’s recent admission to being HIV-positive has sent a ripple of fear through the adult industry. There’s no protocol in place for this. There are no records of who Sheen’s hired, thus no quarantine list for the porn stars he’s been sexually active with.
In the semi-regulated world of adult film, when an HIV scare is made known everyone asks, “Did I perform with the person who tested positive?” Fear turns to panic if it was a close call, relief if it wasn’t. That’s only after a name is released—or patient zero comes forward. Production shuts down, quarantine lists are drawn up for first generation, second, third, and so on. An ideal “who’s performed with whom” list chronicling before and after known exposure is made available. Some call this “the honor system.”
Unfortunately, those outside the business don’t always play by the industry’s self-regulated rules. Needless to say, former Two and a Half Men actor Charlie Sheen plays by his own rules.
“There is so much fear right now amongst the girls… like who have I had sex with that has had sex with them, or have I had sex with a girl who has had sex with Charlie?” says Alana Evans, 2015 AVN Hall of Fame recipient. “Maybe we can get Charlie Sheen to put together a list of all the porno girls he’s had sex with so the rest of us can make sure we’re okay? That’d be great.”
In case you missed it, Sheen admitted on the Today Show that he was HIV-positive, and has known of his diagnosis for four years. He also alleged “all sexual partners have known” about his condition with “no exception.”
While some are applauding Sheen for his bravery in coming forward, there’s speculation amongst industry insiders as to why now? Some credit the 27-year-old blonde who spoke anonymously to the Daily Mail with forcing Sheen’s hand. She estimates the A-lister had sex with at least 50 porn stars since his diagnosis and “fears the porn industry could face an ‘HIV epidemic’ as a result.”
Sheen’s latest role as victim is a bit hard to swallow. He paints a vivid portrait of his suffering at the mercy of his addictions, depression, and multi-million dollar extortions from ex-lovers. Even so, that his two ex-goddesses are contradicting his story raises questions concerning his credibility.
Ex-goddess Bree Olson, who dated and lived with Sheen for seven months in 2011, appeared on The Howard Stern Show to claim she had no idea about her ex’s condition, and claimed she learned about his HIV-positive status “right along with everyone else.”
“He never said anything to me,” Olson added. “I was his girlfriend. I lived with him. We were together. We had sex almost every day for a year—with lambskin condoms.”
Now lambskin condoms—incredibly thin condoms are billed as providing the closest thing to not using condoms at all—only guard against pregnancy and do not prevent the transmission of HIV. Olson told Stern that while she wanted to use standard Trojan condoms, lambskin was Sheen’s condom of choice.
While Olson tested negative for HIV, in Sheen’s home state of California it’s a felony punishable by up to eight years in prison for a person with HIV to have unprotected sex with the intent to infect someone who’s unaware of their status. Though that is incredibly hard to prove in criminal court, California also has a misdemeanor charge carrying up to six months in prison for willfully exposing others to HIV.
“If this man was having sex with these women without protection—because lambskin condoms are not protection—though honestly protection or not without telling them he has HIV Charlie should be arrested,” said adult actress Evans, citing safety as her biggest concern.
To be clear: Sheen does not have AIDS.
According to Sheen’s doctor Robert Huizenga, the actor has an “undetectable” amount of the HIV virus in his system following antiretroviral treatment. However, we do not know if Sheen exposed women to HIV prior to his diagnosis, and prior the antiretroviral drugs kicking in. Furthermore, though Sheen claimed it was “impossible” for him to transmit HIV via unprotected sex, Dr. Huizenga disagreed, telling Today:
“Individuals who are optimally treated, who have undetected viral loads, who responsibly use protection, have an incredibly low—it’s incredibly rare to transmit the virus,” the doctor said. “We can’t say that that’s zero but it’s a very, very low number.”
A low number, to be sure, but not impossible. And, though it’s born of medical ignorance, there’s also the stigma that Sheen’s ex-lovers now face having, as they claim, unknowingly entered into a sexual relationship with someone who has HIV.
“Because of him, every time someone hears my name they think of HIV right next to it,” said Olson, later adding, “He doesn’t even value my life.”
Porn star Sydney Leathers, former congressman Anthony Weiner’s infamous sexting partner, says she knew Sheen often paid girls off—a practice she found odd at the time and questioned.
“He continued giving them large allowances after they stopped sleeping together. I was never naïve enough to think he was just a Robin Hood for porn star escorts,” Leathers tells The Daily Beast. “I’m pissed that [the media] were quick to report that I was exposed, yet they protect him. Because he’s rich and famous. And I’m a societal leper.” (Leathers tested negative for HIV.)
When news of Sheen’s HIV status broke, many porn stars rushed to get a new test—anxious to see the words “negative” and sadly in the dark about how close they might have come to secondhand exposure. And even if Sheen’s HIV virus has been effectively treated and is incredibly difficult to transmit, given their profession, it’s difficult to believe porn stars would continue having sex with a man they knew to have HIV—and it’s certainly their choice to make.
“If you tell us [porn stars] you’re HIV positive we don’t have sex with you. In our job that is the biggest bullet you could take, that’s our livelihood. We’re not going to have sex with you, with or without a condom,” says Evans. “It’s not a game of Russian roulette.”
Yes, porn stars are people too.