The Cuban-American singer, whose father died of hepatitis, urges everyone to learn more and to get tested for the virus.

Washington, D.C., 25 July 2013 (PAHO/WHO) - Cuban-American singer and two-time Grammy award-winner Jon Secada has teamed up with the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) to raise awareness about viral hepatitis, a silent disease that affects over 15 million people in the Americas. 

"I became aware of hepatitis because of my father, who died from hepatitis C," said Secada, who serves as a PAHO Champion of Health. "He didn't know how serious his condition was and for many years didn't pay attention to it. I'm also learning, because I didn't know anything about it before, and hepatitis is closer than you think."

Hepatitis is inflammation of the liver, usually caused by a viral infection. Five main types of hepatitis virus are known — A, B, C, D, and E — all of which can cause infection and severe chronic liver inflammation, which in turn can lead to cirrhosis and liver cancer. An estimated 8 million to 11 million people in the Americas suffer from chronic hepatitis B, while some 7 million have hepatitis C.

"There is a whole world behind hepatitis that you need to know about," said Secada, who has been collaborating with PAHO/WHO on this issue since 2012. "Many people aren't aware of it and need to learn how to prevent, detect, and treat the disease."

In May 2010, the World Health Assembly designated July 28 as World Hepatitis Day to call public attention to the issue and rally health professionals around the world.

Most people do not have symptoms and tend not to develop them for decades, until the virus causes acute or chronic disease.

Secada appears on a PAHO/WHO poster calling for action to address this silent epidemic: "It's closer than you think. Know it, confront it, get tested."

To find out more about viral hepatitis visit https://bit.ly/1axLLqv

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