US Rep. Hank Johnson Suffering From Hepatitis C

6:59 PM, Dec 7, 2009   |    comments
US Rep. Hank Johnson (D-4th Ga.)
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ATLANTA -- U.S. Representative Hank Johnson is battling Hepatitis C. The representative from Georgia was diagnosed more than a decade ago.

However, speculation over his significant weight loss, and weak composure forced the Representative to reveal his bout with the disease.

"The Representative is doing well," said Johnson spokesperson Andy Phelan.

The 4th District Congressman released a statement Monday:

"Over the past year, I have been on a robust course of treatment for hepatitis C (HCV), a virus that affects more than four million Americans. I am pleased to announce that my therapy is progressing well. My physician is encouraged by my response to treatment and expects complete success eradicating the virus.

I hope that my disclosure will provide others suffering from HCV with confidence to speak out and educate the community about this illness. Through clinical trials and medical research, we must always seek new, more effective treatments.

I plan to use my position as a public figure to raise awareness of the consequences of this infection and let others fighting hepatitis know that it is possible to succeed and excel while battling this disease.

The causes of this disease are many, but in the end it does not matter how someone contracted the virus. Like so many millions of others, I was infected many years without ever knowing how I contracted it.

In fact, more than half the people who have hepatitis C don't know how or when they contracted it. And many are fearful of the treatment regimen that impacts your life in unusual ways. Having come through a long course of treatment, I want to send a strong message that a cure is possible but you must be tested and treated.

When he was diagnosed initially 11 years ago, Johnson said doctors gave him 20 years to live. He said he does not know how he contracted the disease.

Today, Johnson says he is free of the virus, however, complications from the disease have left his liver badly damaged and deteriorated his overall health. Johnson said in the statement that he had been on a significant course of treatment over the past year.

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