15 celebrities with hepatitis C
Hepatitis C affects 2.4 million people in the United States and that includes celebrities, many of whom probably didn’t know they had this liver infection. Caused by the hepatitis C virus, hepatitis C can lead to serious liver damage if left undetected.
Interestingly, the majority of people with hepatitis C don’t have symptoms, so the only way to know if you have any is to get tested. Here is a list of celebrities who have been diagnosed with this health condition.
Celebrities diagnosed with hepatitis C
1. Natasha Lyonne
The Orange is the new black The actress learned she had hepatitis C in 2005 after being hospitalized for numerous health issues. Lyonne has opened up about her heroin addiction and has been sober since rehab in 2006. She uses her real-life experience to play series character Nicky Nichols, who also struggles with addiction.
Related: Newly Diagnosed With Hepatitis C? Here’s how to stay healthy
2. Ken Watanabe
Watanabe contracted hepatitis C after receiving a blood transfusion in 1989 to treat leukemia. The Japanese actor was diagnosed in 2005 and began receiving weekly interferon treatments. Today he is healthy and has a successful acting career.
3. Gregg Allman
Rock and roll icon Gregg Allman was diagnosed with hepatitis C in 1999, but did not receive treatment at the time. He received a liver transplant in 2010, but eventually died of liver cancer seven years later. In the years following his transplant, he partnered with the American Liver Foundation to spread the word about the importance of being screened and tested for hepatitis C.
4. Naomi Judd
Country music star and mother to Ashley and Wynonna Judd, Naomi (who sadly passed away in April 2022) was found to have contracted Hepatitis C in 1990 from an infected needle. Although doctors initially predicted she had only a few years to live, she responded well to treatment and was in remission by 1998.
5. Christopher Kennedy Lawford
The All my children and general hospital The soap opera actor had suffered from drug and alcohol addiction for years, which was likely the cause of his hepatitis C diagnosis. To treat the infection, Lawford was given interferon and ribavirin and is now virus free. To help raise awareness, he wrote a book Withdrawal Symptoms: A Memoir of Snapshots and Redemption in the hope that sharing her story will help others suffering from addiction and hepatitis C.
6. Natalie Cole
The singer, who died in 2015, discovered she was infected with hepatitis C after carrying the virus for years. In 2009, Cole learned that her kidney was failing and she would need dialysis to live. She received a transplant in 2010, which allowed her to live for several more years until she died of heart failure. Cole wrote a memoir, love brought me backrevealing details of his diagnosis and health journey.
Related: What people who inject drugs should know about hepatitis C treatment options
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Asymptomatic for many years, rock star Steven Tyler was diagnosed with hepatitis C in 2003. He struggled with drug addiction and was in rehab for almost a decade. After 11 months of antiviral treatment he became virus free and today he is clean and sober. Tyler wants others to know that Hep C is treatable and encourages people to get tested.
8. Pamela Anderson
Baywatch Star Pamela Anderson has contracted hepatitis C after sharing a tattoo needle with ex-husband Tommy Lee. After receiving treatment, she was cured. In an Instagram post, she announced, “I am CURE!!! – I just discovered #nomorehepc. I pray that anyone living with Hep C can qualify or afford treatment. It will soon be more available. I know treatment is hard to get… #dontlosehope.
9. Evel Knievel
Well-known for his dangerous motorcycle stunts, Knievel discovered he had hepatitis C in 1993, which he says came from a blood transfusion following one of his injuries. His liver damage was so severe that he had to receive a liver transplant in 1999. Knieval had numerous other health issues and died in 2007 of lung disease.
10. Rolf Benirschke
Former San Diego Charger Rolf Benirschke contracted Hepatitis C from a blood transfusion. Once cured, Benirschke launched an awareness campaign with a program called Hep C STAT! Her program encouraged people to get tested and learn about risk factors for developing the disease.
11. David Croby
The musician discovered he had hepatitis C in 1994, which may have been the result of years of intravenous drug use. Since his liver suffered severe damage, he received a liver transplant and today he is in good health.
12. Gene Weingarten
The comedy columnist and Pulitzer Prize winner discovered he had hepatitis C after 25 years of infection. Weingarten recalls a brief period when he used heroin during his teenage years, which may have been the cause of the infection.
13. Larry Hagman
Known for his roles in dallas and I dream of Jeannie, Hagman unknowingly had hepatitis C for many years and was finally diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver in 1992. After a liver transplant in 1995, he became an advocate for organ donation and transplantation. Shortly after the transplant, he was diagnosed with throat cancer and even after going into remission, he died of leukemia in 2012.
14. Antoine Kiedis
Lead singer of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Kiedis was diagnosed with hepatitis C in the 1990s, which he attributes to drug use. Committed to living a healthier life, he is now a vegetarian and has various physical activities.
15. Billy Graham
Former WWE professional wrestler Billy Graham learned he contracted hepatitis C in the 1980s while preparing for hip surgery. He underwent treatment for two decades and ended up having a liver transplant in 2002. He went into remission in 2017.
Next step: what not to tell someone who has recently been diagnosed with hepatitis C