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Rep. Hank Johnson Acknowledges Battling Hepatitis C

Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) has battled hepatitis C for more than a decade and continues to undergo treatment for damage the virus caused to his internal organs, his spokesman confirmed on Monday.

Johnson first disclosed his condition to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution after they inquired about the state of his health during an interview.

Johnson told the newspaper he has been free of the blood-born liver disease since January but continues to undergo medical treatment to keep the disease in remission and for the severe damage the disease caused to his liver and thyroid.

Johnson spokesman Andy Phelan confirmed the Georgia Democrat had lost 30 pounds over the last year because of an aggressive medical treatment program.

Johnson told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution his doctors have given him “no limitations on how much longer he’ll live— and that he plans to run for re-election in 2010.

Johnson’s announcement was met with praise from the National Viral Hepatitis Roundtable. The group said in a release that Johnson is believed to be the sole sitting member of Congress to acknowledge he has suffered from the incurable virus.

“In choosing to disclose his condition, Congressman Johnson is helping to propel chronic viral hepatitis to the forefront of our nation’s public-health agenda,— NVHR Chairwoman Lorren Sandt said in a statement. “We are hopeful that Congressman Johnson’s announcement will help spur greater awareness about the need for increased prevention, detection, and treatment of chronic viral hepatitis B and C.—

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