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Originally published Thursday, February 16, 2012 at 4:44 AM

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Jon Secada joins hepatitis C awareness campaign

Three-time Grammy winner Jon Secada wishes his father hadn't kept his chronic hepatitis C diagnosis a secret.

AP Hispanic Affairs Writer

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MIAMI —

Three-time Grammy winner Jon Secada wishes his father hadn't kept his chronic hepatitis C diagnosis a secret.

The Cuban-American singer-songwriter's father, Jose, didn't tell anyone about his diagnosis for a decade, failing to get the help he needed. He died last year from complications related to the virus. Now, his son wants to make sure others get diagnosed and share information with their families.

Secada, whose hits include "Just Another Day," lent his voice Thursday to a campaign to raise awareness among Hispanics about the disease.

Hispanics make up an estimated one-third of the 3.2 million Americans who have chronic hepatitis C, which can remain in the body for years and severely damage the liver. But it is often not talked about, in part because individuals can go symptomless for years. Also, there has long been a stigma around the illness because it is a blood-borne disease that can be contracted through needle exchange and sex.

"You can't be silent with a silent disease that has consequences like chronic hepatitis C - you need to talk to your doctor and talk to your family," Secada said in a statement.

The American Liver Foundation and the New Jersey-based pharmaceutical company Merck - known as MSD in Latin America - are sponsoring the campaign.

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Online:

English campaign site: www.TuneInToHepC.com

Spanish-language site: www.HepatitisCTocaElTema.com

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