Singer Jon Secada’s Mission to Change Lives

By: Ashmar Mandou

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - HealthKnown for his melodic love songs and sweet disposition, GRAMMY-award winning artist Jon Secada wants to be remembered for something else; a voice for those living with chronic Hepatitis C virus (HCV). Recently, Secada joined Merck and the American Liver Foundation (ALF) to lend his voice to the Tune In to Hep C campaign to help raise awareness of HCV in the Latino community.

“This is great opportunity for me to spread awareness and to help educate those living with this chronic disease,” said Secada during a phone-interview with Lawndale News. “The whole experience of researching HCV and raising awareness of this issue in both English and Spanish has truly been an enlightening one.” For Secada, his reason for involvement is a personal one. Last year, the singer lost his father due to complications associated with chronic HCV infection.

Chronic HCV is a viral infection of the liver that can pose as a serious threat and affect the liver over time and lead to end-stage liver disease or liver cancer. Approximately 3.2 millions Americans have chronic HCV; among that number one million are Latinos. Research shows that complications due to chronic HCV develop rapidly and result in more health issues in Latinos when compared to other ethnic groups. According to the ALF, it is estimated that 70 to 80 percent of people newly infect with the virus do not have symptoms, therefore are unaware they have the virus.

“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. 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,” said Secada, who was unaware of his father’s diagnosis for more than a decade. “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. Take it from me, the people who love you want to be there to help you, and want you to be there for them.”

Secada urges families to bring issues related to health to the forefront of daily conversations and advises families, Latino families in particular, to visit their doctor or local health clinic.

The American Liver Foundation partnered with Merck on the Tune In to Hep C campaign to help address barriers that can keep people from managing their disease, including lack of awareness and social stigma. The American Liver Foundation is a national organization advocating for those living with liver disease and their families, and provides education, support and research for the prevention, treatment and cure of liver disease. For more information on chronic HCV, visit You can also listen to Secada’s new song, Your Voice Inside, written in memory of his father.

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