Jon Secada is lending his voice to a campaign aimed at raising awareness of chronic hepatitis C, especially after seeing firsthand how the virus can take such a devastating toll.
The 49-year-old Cuban Grammy-winning singer/songwriter—who revealed that his father died last November from complications associated with hepatitis C—has joined the American Liver Foundation’s “Tune in to Hep C” campaign, along with fellow singers Gregg Allman of The Allman Brothers and Natalie Cole.
“It’s a very quiet illness, that you don’t notice what it’s doing to your liver,” said the two-time Grammy winner in an interview with Efe.
“I didn’t know what this disease was until I saw my father sick,” Secada said.
Secada’s father, Jose Secada, was diagnosed with chronic hepatitis C. He died last year at the age of 83 of complications from the virus, after failing to seek proper medical treatment for many years and keeping the disease a secret, even from family members.
Secada hopes speaking out about his family’s experience can help break the taboo attached to the disease and encourage greater understanding about its risks, he told Reuters in an interview, especially among Hispanics.
“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, who has sold more than 20 million albums worlwide, wants to make certain that people are fully aware of the dangers of chronic hepatitis C and that “there are many treatment options.”
“There are 3 million people affected by hepatitis C in the United States, 30 percent of whom are Hispanic-Americans,” Secada said. “We have to be aware of our health and ask for help” when it’s needed, he said. “If you don’t take care of your health, in the end you can’t help your family.”