I am a 57-year-old white American male infected with Hepatitis C. I am involved in a controlled medical research study by Roche Pharmaceuticals of an experimental Polymerase Inhibitor (RO5024048 also known as RG7128) drug therapy for the virus. This document is the story of my illness and the experience of treatment. My lovely and pretty damn wonderful wife will be contributing her take on the experience as well.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

A Shout Out to Gregg Allman

The television was tuned to one of those deep cable cultural stations which was running a German film from the thirties when they went to commercial. The ad started out with a voice over from Gregg Allman mentioning the Allman Brothers Museum in Macon, Georgia. Then it morphed in a completely different direction. In a full-face statement, he announced that in 1999 he had been diagnosed with Hepatitis C. He said that on his doctor’s advice he eventually acknowledged the reality of the disease and sought help. He said that he was glad he did and that doing so allowed him to not just have memories of the past, but to continue to make memories today. He urged people to go to tuneintohepc.com for more information and to get tested.

Even though a number of prominent people in various walks of live have contracted HEP C, (list here) there have not been a correspondingly large number who have spoken out about their disease. Natalie Cole, a fellow musician who is featured on the tuneintohepc.com website talked about the disease, how she got it and what the treatment was like in 2008. A link to one of the articles is here. Pamela Anderson has talked about her disease as well. Allman talked to Sanjay Gupta on CNN about the disease, his cancer and his liver transplant earlier this summer (link here). He also made the TV public service commercial noted above. I’m sure there are others, but just the fact that it is hard to identify them means that HEP C sufferers have not had the same celebrity support that folks with many other diseases have had.

Folks who have HEP C, whether celebrity or no, have no obligation to reveal their health information to anyone. To assume that they bear greater responsibility to advocate for the disease is wrong. All of us may choose how we deal with the fact that we have it. Still, it would do a great deal for raising the awareness of HEP C if all of us who have it, especially celebrities, speak out about the disease, advocate for more research, and for those of us who have undergone treatment, inform people about what to expect if they decide to be treated.

For now, though, I would like to thank Mr. Allman for making his public service announcement, for going on CNN and for being out front and straightforward about the disease. Let’s hope it leads a lot more people to be tested and to be able to consider treatment while their liver can still be saved.


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