Hepatitis C has some high profile victims, from Mickey Mantle to Pamela Anderson, Mao Judd, and even Evel Knieval. It's estimated four million Americans may be infected with Hepatitis C, and most don't know it because it causes almost no symptoms as it slowly destroys the liver.
The good news is there is a treatment that is effective for many Hepatitis C patients. It's a combination of a special long-lasting interferon called Pegasys and an antiviral known as Ribavirin. More importantly, a study done at North General Hospital in Harlem shows the combination is very effective against the strain that's especially common among African Americans.
"Caucasians still make out better, but it tells you from the numbers that treatment can be given to the African Americans population, and it's effective. So, you can actually cure that patient," says Dr. Samuel Daniel, CEO, North General Hospital.
"It was incredible. They came, ya know and told me, they said, Mr. Appleton, congratulations. You no longer have Hepatitis C. So, my life started again from there," says patient Ray Appelton.
But Dr. Daniel says happy outcomes like that can only happen if you know you're infected and start treatment before you end up with irreversible liver damage. That's why health experts recommend that anyone at risk, people who have had blood transfusions, used IV drugs, had multiple sex partners, even if it was decades ago, be tested for Hepatitis C.