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Neither Fame Nor Fortune Protects Against Hep C

Nicole Cutler L.Ac. February 14, 2014

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The Hepatitis C virus does not discriminate. Find out 10 celebrities who have been infected with HCV.
Neither Fame Nor Fortune Protects Against Hep C

Healthcare education campaigns have made great progress in increasing the public’s awareness of Hepatitis C, but we still have a long way to go. Even though Hepatitis C affects people of all ages, races and socioeconomic levels, a derogatory stigma is frequently still associated with this common, infectious, liver virus. Nothing deflates an illness-related stigma like recognition that plenty of prominent celebrities have contracted the illness.

Hepatitis C affects people from all walks of life. Confirming this illness spares nobody, below is a list of famous people who fell victim to the Hepatitis C virus.

  1. Steven Tyler – Frontman for Aerosmith and American Idol judge Steven Tyler was diagnosed with Hepatitis C in 2003. After persevering through 11 months of anti-viral therapy which he reported to have “about killed” him, Tyler’s blood shows no signs of Hepatitis C.
  2. Mickey Mantle – Superstar slugging center fielder of the New York Yankees of the 1950s and 1960s, Mickey Mantle died at the age of 63 from liver cancer. Despite a liver transplant, Mantle’s condition was fueled by alcoholism and Hepatitis C.
  3. Natalie Cole – Multi Grammy-winning singer Natalie Cole found out she was infected with Hepatitis C after some routine bloodwork. Cole decided to go public with her illness to help bring awareness to Hepatitis C and change the stigma that frequently surrounds it.
  4. Naomi Judd – Country music singer Naomi Judd was infected with Hepatitis C from a needlestick injury when she was a nurse. Judd has credited meditation with helping her overcome the Hepatitis C virus after doctors declared in 1990 that she only had three years to live.
  5. Rolf Benirschke – Record-breaking football place-kicker for the San Diego Chargers, Rolf Benirschke was infected with Hepatitis C from a blood transfusion. Now clear of the virus, Benirschke started a national awareness and patient support program called Kick Hep C.
  6. Pamela Anderson – Former Baywatch star Pamela Anderson was infected with Hepatitis C by sharing a tattoo needle with her ex-husband Tommy Lee, former drummer for the band Motley Crue.
  7. Devon Nicholson – Professional wrestler Devon Nicholson had his contract with the worldwide empire of the WWE® cancelled when he tested positive for Hepatitis C. After treatment with Incivek in 2013, Nicholson achieved SVR and is now free of the virus.
  8. Anita Roddick – Businesswoman and founder of The Body Shop chain of cosmetic stores, Anita Roddick was diagnosed with Hepatitis C in 2004 following a routine blood test. She was infected during a blood transfusion in 1971and died from Hepatitis C-related complications in 2007.
  9. Ray Charles – When he was 73 years old, legendary music icon Ray Charles died. The cause of his death was liver failure – fueled by alcoholic liver disease and Hepatitis C infection. Charles had a long history of drug abuse and proclaimed, “If I knew I was going to live this long, I would have taken better care of myself.”
  10. Christopher Kennedy Lawford – Nephew of President John F. Kennedy, accomplished author, actor, lawyer and activist, Christopher Kennedy Lawford struggled with drug and alcohol dependency and spent more than 24 years in recovery. Diagnosed with Hepatitis C in 2000, successfully treated, and currently virus free, Lawford campaigns worldwide to raise awareness of addiction and Hepatitis C.

The 10 recognizable names listed above have all been the source of awe by generations of Americans. Despite their accomplishments, fame and fortune, these celebrities are eternally united by their battle against Hepatitis C. Hopefully, recognizing just a few names on this list will help people understand that Hepatitis C does not only infect one type of person, causing the derogatory stigma associated with Hepatitis C to fade away.

http://blackdoctor.org/272450/ray-charles-drug-addiction/, Ray Charles & Drug Addiction, Retrieved February 2, 2014, BlackDoctor, Inc, 2014.

http://blog.seattlepi.com/people/2014/01/29/naomi-judd-meditation-helped-me-beat-hepatitis-c/, Naomi Judd: ‘Meditation helped me beat Hepatitis C’, Retrieved January 31, 2014, Hearst Seattle Media, LLC, 2014.

http://hepatitiscnews.com/20-famous-people-with-hepatitis-c/, 20 Famous People with Hepatitis C, Retrieved February 2, 2014, Tutor Reilly, 2014.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2023207/Anita-Roddick-died-contracting-hepatitis-C-1971-blood-transfusion.html, Anita Roddick Died After Contracting Hepatitis C From a 1971 Blood Transfusion, Rachel Reilly, Jane Gregory, Retrieved February 2, 2014, Associated Newspapers Ltd, 2014.

http://www.ihelpc.com/famous-people-with-hepatitis-c/, Famous People With Hepatitis C,
Retrieved January 31, 2014, I Help C, 2014.

http://www.lifescript.com/life/timeout/entertainment/how_natalie_cole_copes_with_chronic_hepatitis_c.aspx, How Natalie Cole Copes with Chronic Hepatitis C, Gina Roberts-Grey, Retrieved February 2, 2014, Lifescript.com, 2014.

http://www.netnewsledger.com/2013/12/22/wrestler-devon-nicholson-cured-of-hepatitis-c/, Wrestler Devon Nicholson Cured of Hepatitis C, James Murray, Retrieved January 31, 2014, NetNewsLedger.com, 2014.

http://www.newswise.com/articles/christopher-kennedy-lawford-urges-america-to-face-silent-epidemic-hepatitis-c, Christopher Kennedy Lawford Urges America to Face Silent Epidemic “Hepatitis C”, Retrieved February 2, 2014, Newswise, Inc., 2014.

http://www.trendski.com/2011/02/steven-tyler-hepatitis-c.html, The Steven Tyler Hepatitis C Scare: A Fight for His Life, Retrieved February 2, 2014, Trendski.com, 2014.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/sports/longterm/memories/1995/95pass6.htm, Mickey Mantle, Legend of Baseball, Dies at 63, Bart Barnes, Retrieved February 2, 2014, The Washington Post Company, 2014.

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HepatitisCentral.com provides information regarding hepatitis and liver disease. Comments are available to the community in order to discuss these topics and obtain answers to questions through community members. The Editors at HepatitisCentral.com will not be responding to questions or comments posed in article comments.

  • Drifter

    Dusty Hill bass guitarist for ZZ Topp

    • penden

      It shouldn’t matter how one may have contracted it…how could one possibly even know that for sure…I was born 1964, was raped by two escaped prisoners in 1984, worked as care giver, saved a strangers life and in doing so was covered in his blood, got a tattoo in New Orleans….but the first question the doctors asks is ever use intravenous drugs…yes that too… I’ve lived a life and it ain’t always been an easy one but I’m 50 and happily married for 23 of the 27 years I’ve known my sweet husband…I’m looking forward to getting well…wish me luck!

      • klaatu

        Good luck buddy and thanks for your candid comment!

  • Noseknows

    Add my name to the list. I’m a legend in my own mind.

  • grilledchi

    It is a shame that Professional wrestler Devon Nicholson had his contract cancelled. Would that be done to someone with HIV?

  • Deborah Mand (Brown)

    if pam anderson got hep c from sharing a tattoo needle with tommy,why isnt tommy also named above as having hep c…i dont believe she got it from tommy,he just let her blame him to clear herself for whatever her reason.

  • jills place

    Im curious why it appears to be so important how someone contracted HCV. Doctors always want to know and I have to ask why since it has no bearing on anything at all. Is a treatment any different because someone got hep c one way as opposed to another way? Of course not.