MIAMI (CBSMiami/AP) – Three-time Grammy winner and Miami resident Jon Secada wishes his father hadn’t kept a secret about his health from his son.
The Cuban-American singer-songwriter’s father, Jose, didn’t tell anyone that he had been diagnosed with chronic hepatitis C more than a decade ago and failed to get the help he needed. He died last year from complications related to the virus.
Now Secado wants to make sure others get diagnosed and share information with their families. On Thursday he lent his voice to the “Tune In to Hep C” campaign which raises awareness among Hispanics about the disease.
Hispanics make up an estimated one-third of the 3.2 million Americans who have chronic hepatitis C, which can remain in the body for years and severely damage the liver. But it is often not talked about, in part because individuals can go symptomless for years. Also, there has long been a stigma around the illness because it is a blood-borne disease that can be contracted through needle exchange and sex.
“You can’t be silent with a silent disease that has consequences like chronic hepatitis C — you need to talk to your doctor and talk to your family,” Secada said in a statement.
The American Liver Foundation and the New Jersey-based pharmaceutical company Merck — known as MSD in Latin America — are sponsoring the campaign.