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The seriousness of hepatitis

Sadie Frost

Question: How did one actor’s family tragedy initiate a passion for campaigning for a change in the treatment of hepatitis? Answer: For Sadie Frost, the premature death of her father from hepatitis C inspired her to start campaigning with passion.

Why I joined the fight

When the actor and director Sadie Frost’s father David died at a tragically young age, she knew it could have been prevented. David was just 57 when he died of hepatitis C in 2003 — yet he had probably contracted the disease in the seventies and remained undiagnosed for years, explains Frost. The delay in diagnosis had a simple cause — and fatal consequences, Frost explains. “There was definitely a stigma attached to going to the doctor and getting tested, as there still is for too many people and until recently a lot of information about hepatitis C hadn’t surfaced,” says Frost. “Had my father been tested, he could have had the opportunity to live a healthier life, get his health back on track and live longer than he did. Because he didn’t get tested it had a huge impact on him and his family.”

A quick test that saves lives

It’s a simple test — a quick finger prick, she points out. Her father’s death spurred Frost forward. “When he died I wanted to find out more about the disease — I was very frustrated, it felt as if we were all in this grey area and had we gained more information it would have helped. To build some bridges in my head after his death I felt strongly that if I went and found out more about it and worked with the Hepatitis C Trust it would bring some peace — which it has.” Frost is now involved in ongoing fundraising with the Hepatitis C Trust, focusing on raising awareness of hepatitis C and the importance of getting tested. “I feel it’s good to be closely aware of things,” she explains. “We all lead such busy lives but it’s good to connect with others — it’s a very human, raw experience. Big fundraisers do their job but my work with the Hepatitis C Trust is much more hands-on, more intimate,” she says. “We work with other celebrities such as Mathew Horne, Boy George and Jodie Harsh, all of which raise the profile of the trust and raise awareness among the public; there is a wealth of understanding and to me it is about getting it out there when you have the power to do so.”

Preventing tragedy for others

“My father’s death was awful and painful. He was diagnosed too late for treatment to be effective and by the end he was awaiting a liver transplant, his chest and stomach had filled up with fluid, and hepatitis had affected his mental health as well as his physical health. It was deeply unpleasant for him and or all of us,” adds Frost. “My motto for my health has always been to get tested: whatever it is, there’s absolutely no point being in denial. Tests of all kinds are so easy now; I just get tested for everything. Prevention is everything and enables you to move forward, and with hepatitis C getting tested means you can start treating it and get your health — and your life — back on track.”

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