The Dangers of Hepatitis C in Hollywood

Hepatitis C infection can affect anyone, even Hollywood celebrities who seem to be living the good life. Somehow, this comes as no surprise because over 3.2 American people are infected by this liver disease.

Due to the commonality of the disease, the National Health Organization has recommended everyone born between the years 1945 to 1965 to get screened for hepatitis C. Unlike hepatitis A and hepatitis B where anyone can get a vaccine at Rite Aid or Costco, hepatitis C has no possible prevention.

Dr. Ira Jacobson, a hepatitis C virus expert, explains that as this disease do not manifest any symptoms, most people are unaware that they are carriers. Some might even had the virus for decades thus the likelihood of celebrities being exposed is fifty percent.

What are the Symptoms and How is it Transmitted

While most patients remain to be asymptomatic, people who are infected with hepatitis C may show the following signs:

  • Stomach pain
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Yellowing of the skin and eyes, a condition called “jaundice”

As the virus can spread by blood transfusion or contact with body fluids from an infected person, celebrities may have gotten it through needle sharing during drug use, sex with multiple partners or someone with a sexually-transmitted disease, or through birth.

It is impertinent to understand that hepatitis C cannot be transmitted through contaminated water, food, or simple contact with a carrier.

Celebrities who Have Hepatitis C

  • Ken Watanabe – this Japanese actor defeated leukemia in the year 1989 but due to an infected blood transfusion, he contracted the virus. The routine screening of blood donations didn’t start until the year 1992. He began his treatment for hepatitis C in 2005.
  • Pamela Anderson – this sexy “Baywatch” star got infected in 2002 after she shared a needle with husband Tommy Lee while getting a tattoo. The actress is currently an active advocate of hepatitis C to inform people of the risks and side effects of the disease.
  • Natalie Cole – this singer was a known heroin user during her youth so it is more than likely that she got her hepatitis C from her drug use. In her book “Love Brought Me Back”, Cole shared how she found out about the disease, wherein a series of routine blood tests made her see a liver specialist. She didn’t know she had it until her diagnosis.

How to Treat Hepatitis C

There is now an available drug called Harvoni that can help treat the disease after eight to 12 weeks. This once-a-day pill is a combination of sofosbuvir and ledipasvir, both highly effective against the hepatitis C virus. Another treatment is the Viekira Pak, a three drug combination of ombitasvir, ritonavir, and paritaprevir that can help cure the disease in a shorter period.

Unfortunately, both of these drugs can cause side effects like headache and fatigue. The Viekira Pak even has an FDA warning of causing severe injury to the liver.

The recovery and treatment of infected patients will really depend on several factors, including the type of virus the patient is carrying. In the United States, genotype 1 is the most common hepatitis C virus and experts often surround their findings or clinical trials in this virus.

The best way is not to have hepatitis C as prevention is always better than cure. In order to do this, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the following:

  • Use of condom when having sexual intercourse
  • Avoid donating blood if you are a carrier
  • Do not share personal hygiene items like razor
  • Avoid sharing needles when getting a tattoo