The UK government is urged to provide “direct financial relief” to people infected with HIV and hepatitis C (HCV) from contaminated blood provided by the National Health Service (HNS), states a long-awaited report released on February 23, 2009.
In addition to compensation, the report calls for free prescription drugs, doctor visits, counseling, physical therapy and home nursing for the survivors. It also recommends the establishment of a committee to advise the British government on the management of hemophilia.
The information contained in the report was gathered through an independent public inquiry chaired by former solicitor general Lord Archer of Sandwell, who called the affair “a horrific human tragedy.” The investigation revealed that the UK Department of Health was clearly aware of the increased risk of HCV in U.S.-manufactured blood products in the early 1970s. It includes highly critical statements of the UK government’s early decision-making and handling of the crisis.
Approximately 4,700 individuals in the UK contracted HCV after receiving contaminated blood distributed by the NHS in the late 1970s and early-to-mid 1980s. More than 1,200 people were also infected with HIV; of those 800 have since died.
Source: The Guardian, February 23 and 24, 2009