I was diagnosed with chronic hepatitis C during a routine blood test in 2008. After being referred to a liver and kidney specialist, I learned the virus had been living in my body for more than 25 years – nearly half of my life. I learned that it's a silent disease that – for many people – can be in your body for decades without any symptoms.
One thing is for sure – there's a stigma surrounding chronic hepatitis C because it's associated with IV drug use. I believe that's how I got it. But, everyone's story is different. Some people were infected through non-sterile body piercings or tattoos. Others were infected during blood transfusions or organ transplants before widespread screening of blood began in the U.S. in 1992. Honestly, it doesn't matter how you got it.
You didn't do anything to deserve it. What's important is that you do something about it and talk to your doctor.
Once I was diagnosed, I didn't wait to start treatment. I knew it would be difficult, but I was determined. I found singing to be my therapy – for me, singing lifted my spirits and kept my hope alive. I even went to Japan to perform just as I had for the past 30 years, even though I did have to cancel a few shows due to fatigue.
Now, my hepatitis C virus is gone. I feel lucky. I am using my voice to spread awareness and support others in taking action against chronic hepatitis C. Doing nothing is not an option; talk to your doctor.
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It's time to tune in to hep C. Are you ready to take the next step?
Want to spend the day with Gregg Allman? Visit "The Big House," where the Allman Brothers Band lived together during one of their most creative periods in the early 1970s. After extensive renovation, it's now become The Allman Brothers Band Museum. Click here to watch exclusive "behind the scenes" footage of a public service announcement Gregg filmed recently at the museum.