If you have an image in your mind of someone infected with hepatitis C, it might be far removed from that of a glamorous entertainment star. The reality of infection with hepatitis C, however, is that it can strike anyone exposed to it. That's why national health organizations now recommend hepatitis C screening for all adults born from 1945 to 1965. “Screening based on risk factor identification has been largely unsuccessful,” says hepatitis C expert Ira M. Jacobson, MD, chief of the division of gastroenterology and hepatology at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City. You can have hep C for decades without symptoms, so like anyone else, celebrities may have been exposed to the virus before the blood supply was properly screened for it, or before people knew to take preventive measures.
Movie Actor Ken Watanabe
Japanese actor Ken Watanabe fought leukemia in 1989, and though he was successful in defeating his blood cancer, he contracted hepatitis C from a blood transfusion, and began treatment in 2005, according to TV Guide. Routine screening of the blood supply for hepatitis didn't begin until 1992. Watanabe was among many people who contracted the hepatitis C infection from blood products or organ donations prior to that date. That's among the reasons that hepatitis C screening is now recommended for everyone born between 1945 and 1965 — the baby boomer generation.