The former Two and a Half Men star confirmed long-running rumours about his health on Tuesday (17Nov15) when he announced he was diagnosed with the disease four years ago.

During his appearance on America's Today show, Charlie admitted he spent a long time trying to keep the news secret, and handed over more than $10 million (£6.3 million) to silence those who threatened to go public with his story.

Charlie's father Martin has now revealed family members had been encouraging the actor to go public with his HIV status for "several months" even though talking openly about the well-kept secret was incredibly "difficult".

Speaking during a press conference in Florida, Martin told reporters, "He (Charlie) had been leading up to this sort of story for several months, and we kept encouraging him to do it... And he kept backing away and backing away because it was like going to his own execution, I guess...

"It was the most difficult thing he'd ever done. And he kind of sealed it when he called (Today show host) Matt Lauer last week and asked if he could go on."

The West Wing actor goes on to admit he had no idea Charlie was planning to go through with the TV talk until the day of the show, and he choked back tears as he told reporters how proud he was of his son for speaking out about such a personal matter.

"We didn't know until he walked on the set... that he was going to do it," Martin added. "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 (with him to the interview) I would have cancelled this event. He said, no, this was his and his alone... I can't speak for him of course. Sorry (for crying)...

"When someone comes to themself, 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... 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.

"I left him a message, and I said that if I had that much courage, I would change the world... I hope that this day is the first day of the rest of Charlie's life as a free man."

The actor concluded by encouraging everyone attending the press conference in Naples, Florida, which was part of a financial leadership conference, to show compassion to loved ones who are going through a tough time, according to