Jon Secada joins campaign on chronic hepatitis C

Thu Feb 16, 2012 4:29pm EST
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By David Adams

MIAMI (Reuters) - Grammy-award winning Cuban-American singer Jon Secada added his voice on Thursday to a growing public health campaign to raise awareness of chronic hepatitis C infection.

Secada, 50, revealed that his father died last November from complications associated with hepatitis C, after failing to seek proper medical treatment for many years and keeping the disease a secret, even from family members.

Secada is joining forces with the American Liver Foundation in a campaign 'Tune in to Hep C,' backed by fellow singers Gregg Allman of The Allman Brothers and Natalie Cole, 62, the daughter of jazz legend Nat King Cole.

Cole had a life-saving liver transplant in 2009 after she was stricken with the disease, the legacy of drug abuse in her earlier life.

Secada hopes speaking out about his family's experience can help break a taboo attached to the disease and encourage greater understanding about its risks, he told Reuters in an interview.

"My father chose not to tell anyone about his disease for a long time, and he chose not to take action against it for reasons I may never understand," he said. "By the time he was able to explore any aggressive medications it was too late."

Secada does not know how his father contracted the virus, which began to affect his health about eight years ago. His father, Jose Secada, was a political prisoner in Cuba for three years in the 1960s and left the island with his family in 1970.

"Before he passed away, he told me that he wanted me to share his story to help other people like him who have chronic hepatitis C but aren't taking action," Secada said.   Continued...