Hepatitis C affects 2.4 million people in the United States and this includes celebrities, many of whom you probably didn’t realize have this liver infection. Caused by the hepatitis C virus, hepatitis C can lead to severe liver damage if left undetected.
Interestingly, the majority of those with hepatitis C don’t have symptoms, so the only way to know if you have it is to get tested. Here’s 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 actress learned she had hepatitis C in 2005 after being hospitalized for numerous health issues. Lyonne opened up about her addiction to heroin and has been sober since going to rehab in 2006. She uses her real-life experience to play the character on the show Nicky Nichols, who also battles 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 started receiving weekly treatments of interferon. Today, he maintains good health and has a successful acting career.
3. Gregg Allman
Rock and roll icon Gregg Allman learned he had hepatitis C in 1999, but didn’t receive treatment at that time. He received a liver transplant in 2010, but ultimately died of liver cancer seven years later. In the years following his transplant, he partnered with the American Liver Foundation to spread the word regarding the importance of being screened and tested for hep C.
4. Naomi Judd
Country music star and mother of Ashley and Wynonna Judd, Naomi (who sadly passed away in April 2022) discovered she contracted hepatitis C in 1990 due to an infected needle. Although doctors initially predicted she only had 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 soap opera actor suffered from drug and alcohol addiction for years, which was the likely 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 Symptoms of Withdrawal: A Memoir of Snapshots and Redemption with the hope that sharing his story will help others with addiction and hepatitis C.
6. Natalie Cole
The singer, who passed away in 2015, discovered she was infected with hepatitis C after having the virus for years. In 2009, Cole learned that her kidney was failing and she would need dialysis in order 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 Back, revealing details of her diagnosis and her health journey.
Related: What People Who Inject Drugs Should Know About Hepatitis C Treatment Options
7. Steven Tyler
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Asymptomatic for many years, rock star Steven Tyler learned he had hepatitis C in 2003. He struggled with drug addiction and was in and out of rehab for nearly a decade. After 11 months of anti-viral therapy 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 contracted hepatitis C after sharing a tattoo needle with her ex-husband, Tommy Lee. After receiving treatment, she was cured. In a post on Instagram, she announced, “I am CURED!!! – I just found out #nomorehepc. I pray anyone living with hep C can qualify or afford treatment. It will be more available soon. I know treatment is hard to get still…#dontlosehope.”
9. Evel Knievel
Well known for his dangerous motorcycle stunts, Knievel discovered he had hepatitis C in 1993, which he thinks occurred as a result of a blood transfusion after 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 pulmonary disease.
10. Rolf Benirschke
Former San Diego Charger Rolf Benirschke contracted hepatitis C from a blood transfusion. Once he was cured, Benirschke began campaigning to raise awareness with a program called Hep C STAT! His program encouraged people to get tested and learn about risk factors for developing this health condition.
11. David Crosby
The musician found out he had hepatitis C in 1994, which may have been the result of prior years of IV drug use. Since his liver suffered severe damage, he received a liver transplant and today he is in good health.
12. Gene Weingarten
The humor columnist and Pulitzer prize winner discovered he had hepatitis C after 25 years of being infected. Weingarten remembered a brief time when he used heroin in his teenage years, which could have been the cause of the infection.
13. Larry Hagman
Well-known for his roles in Dallas and I Dream of Jeannie, Hagman unknowingly had hepatitis C for many years and was ultimately 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 from leukemia in 2012.
14. Anthony Kiedis
Lead singer of The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Kiedis was diagnosed with hepatitis C in the 1990s, which he credits to drug use. Committed to living a healthier lifestyle, he is now a vegetarian and has various physical pursuits.
15. Billy Graham
Former WWE pro wrestler Billy Graham learned he contracted hepatitis C in the 1980s 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 up: What Not to Say to Someone Who Recently Received a Hepatitis C Diagnosis