Thursday, June 20, 2024

How did 30,000 people get infected with HIV in UK? Blood scandal report tomorrow

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The final report of the UK’s infected blood inquiry will be released on Monday, nearly six years after the investigation began. The inquiry examined how thousands of people contracted HIV or hepatitis from transfusions of tainted blood in the 1970s and 1980s.

The inquiry estimated that over 30,000 people were infected with compromised blood.(Unsplash)

This scandal is considered the deadliest to have affected Britain’s National Health Service (NHS) since its founding in 1948, with around 3,000 people believed to have died as a result of these infections.

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What is UK’s infected blood scandal?

• In the 1970s and 1980s, thousands of people in the UK who needed blood transfusions were exposed to blood contaminated with hepatitis, including what became known as Hepatitis C, and HIV.

• The NHS introduced Factor VIII, a new treatment derived from blood plasma, in the early 1970s for people with haemophilia, a condition affecting blood clotting.

• Due to high demand, the NHS imported Factor VIII from the US, where plasma donations often came from high-risk groups like prisoners and drug users, increasing the risk of contamination.

• Factor VIII was produced by mixing plasma from thousands of donors, meaning one infected donor could contaminate an entire batch.

• The inquiry estimated that over 30,000 people were infected with compromised blood through transfusions or Factor VIII treatment.

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What is expected from the infected blood inquiry report?

The report is expected to criticise pharmaceutical firms, medical practitioners, civil servants and politicians, although many involved have since passed away. It will likely lead to a significant compensation bill, pressuring the British government to pay quickly.

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Campaigners argue that it was known since the 1940s that heating could kill hepatitis in plasma products, and that Factor VIII could have been made safe before being sold. The inquiry is expected to conclude that lessons from as early as the 1940s were ignored.

Inputs from wires

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