Natalie Cole & Her Battle With Hepatitis C

Natalie Cole( — Hepatitis C is killing more Americans than HIV, according to a just-released study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. One of the millions infected is singer Natalie Cole, 61.

The multi-Grammy winning star recently opened up about managing her condition and her life, as well as how she managed the guilt of knowing her past most likely contributed to her developing the disease.

Cole lost her iconic father, Nat King Cole, when she was just 15, and struggled with drug abuse for years, which she described in her 2000 autobiography, Angel on My Shoulder. After going through rehab for drug use in 1983, Cole thought she put the dark days behind her.

But in 2008, a diagnosis of the liver disease hepatitis C brought them home again.

Hepatitis C is a viral infection that damages the liver and other organs. It may lead to a liver transplant or even death. In fact, Cole got a transplant in 2009, but not for a new liver. Because of chronic hepatitis C, both her kidneys had begun failing, and she received a new kidney.