An Oscar statue lying on its side with a red stomach

What You and Celebrities With Hepatitis C May Have in Common

The death of Naomi Judd brought to light the number of famous people with hepatitis C. It is important to note that Naomi Judd did not die due to her hepatitis C.  While some likely have hepatitis C that hasn’t revealed their diagnosis, many others have. 

It shows just how wide the range of people affected by hepatitis C is:  like those reading this piece, celebrities with hepatitis C come from all types of backgrounds. 

Notable people who have had hep C

From authors to congresspeople and rich families to humble beginnings, hepatitis C has found its way into their lives.

Like those without fame, celebrities have also contracted hepatitis C in several ways.  Some, like actor Ken Watanabe, found they had hepatitis C after a blood transfusion for a different medical condition.  

Naomi Judd was infected by a needle when working as a medical professional as a nurse in her early days. 

Writers and authors like Gene Weingarten and Christopher Kennedy Lawford developed hepatitis C after IV drug use.1

Similar to the not-so-famous, celebrities range from being open about their diagnosis to keeping it hidden for fear of stigma

Congressman Hank Johnson and singer Steven Tyler both report keeping their diagnosis secret for years. Others have talked to the media throughout their journey.1 

Both Pamela Anderson and Naomi Judd are well known for their efforts to lessen liver disease stigmas and advocate for others with hepatitis C.  Naomi Judd was involved in the American Liver Foundation (ALF), becoming the national spokesperson for the ALF.   

She’s credited with creating awareness that led to increased funding and interest in liver diseases during a time when stigmas were even more powerful than they are now.2

One of the differences between celebrities and others with hepatitis C may be treatment and care. It’s well-known that those with means often have greater access to healthcare treatments. 

However, that doesn’t mean celebrities are safe from the risk of hepatitis C complications.  For example, singer David Crosby needed a liver transplant in the early 90s. Natalie Cole, daughter of the legendary Nat “King” Cole, developed kidney failure as a result of her hepatitis C.1

An excerpt from Natalie Cole’s book, Love Brought Me Back, shows celebrities are not immune to the emotions of a hepatitis C diagnosis.  

Fear of what the diagnosis means, fear of complications that have already developed or may develop, fear of treatment side effects, and so on are all very real. 

Natalie Cole also expresses confusion over the diagnosis, given that her struggle with IV drug use had ended over two decades before finding out she had hepatitis C. As a nurse, I’ve seen those without fame and fortune struggle with similar emotions and fears.

Again, celebrity or not, some keep their hepatitis C journeys close to their heart, and others find value in sharing their stories

Celebrities often use media interviews and books to share their journey, while everyday people may use social media, books, or blogs to connect to others. Even if you choose not to share your story, you may find value and connection in hearing others’. 

And, it’s important to know that you’re not alone if you are a celebrity or not.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The HepatitisC.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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