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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Natalie Cole – Multi Grammy-winning singer Natalie Cole found out she was infected with Hepatitis C after some routine bloodwork. Having lived with HCV for 20 years without knowing it, Cole decided to go public with her illness to help bring awareness to Hepatitis C and change the stigma that frequently surrounds it. Natalie Cole passed away in 2015 from congestive heart failusre that may have been related to her having Hepatitis C.
- Anthony Kiedis – Lead singer of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Kiedis was diagnosed in the 1990s with Hepatitis C which he contracted through IV drug use. In his autobiography, Scar Tissue, he states that upon receiving his diagnosis he researched and found an herbal regimen that he feels cleansed his liver and eradicated the virus.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Dusty Hill – Bassist and vocalist for ZZ Top, Dusty was diagnosed with HCV in 2000 and after successful treatment was in remission by 2002.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.”
- 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.
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.
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Kiedis, A., & Sloman, L. (2004). Scar tissue (pp. 2-3). New York, NY: Hyperion.
Murray, J. (2013, December 22). Wrestler Devon Nicholson cured of Hepatitis C. Retrieved November 08, 2019, from http://www.netnewsledger.com/2013/12/22/wrestler-devon-nicholson-cured-of-hepatitis-c/
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Reilly, R., & Gregory, J. (2011, August 09). Anita Roddick died after contracting hepatitis C from a 1971 blood transfusion. Retrieved November 08, 2019, from https://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2023207/Anita-Roddick-died-contracting-hepatitis-C-1971-blood-transfusion.html
Schaffel, G. (2018, April 25). Celebrities who have battled hepatitis c. Retrieved November 08, 2019, from https://www.aarp.org/health/conditions-treatments/info-2018/hepatitis-c-celebrities-famous-people.html
Steven Tyler: I have Hepatitis C. (2006, September 26). Retrieved November 08, 2019, from https://www.cbsnews.com/news/steven-tyler-i-have-hepatitis-c/