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Tuesday, 19 June, 2001, 13:09 GMT 14:09 UK
Italian Aids victims to get damages
The state was slow to introduce checks on donated blood
The state was slow to start checks on donated blood
A Rome court has ordered Italy's Health Ministry to pay damages to 351 people who contracted the HIV virus and hepatitis through blood transfusions.

The court said that the ministry was too slow to introduce measures to prevent the virus being spread by donated blood, and did not establish proper checks on plasma.

About 100 of the victims - all haemophiliacs - have already died, but the court ruled that their families were entitled to compensation.

The amount will differ from case to case, depending on the victims' age at the time they contracted the disease, as well as on the disease's effects.

Individual actions

Lawyers say it will take time for each patient to bring a separate action against the ministry "to quantify the damages".

Activists say infected blood has killed 1,300 people
Activists say infected blood has killed 1,300 people
The Health Ministry said in a statement it wouldn't comment until it knew "the details, the content and motivations of the ruling".

Angelo Magrini, the head of a haemophiliacs' association, said that 1,300 people, including almost 150 children, had died in Italy from infected blood infusions since 1985.

Precedent

In an earlier ruling, in 1998, a court ordered the government to pay damages to about 400 haemophiliacs.

But the appeals court sharply reduced the amount of people entitled to the compensation.

Under the previous ruling, the state could only be held responsible from 1978 for hepatitis B. 1985 for Aids, and 1988 for hepatitis C.

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See also:

08 Apr 99 | Medical notes
Blood: The risks of infection
21 May 99 | Europe
Minister faces HIV scandal trial
09 Mar 99 | Europe
Acquittals in French blood trial
28 Mar 01 | Asia-Pacific
Doctor cleared in HIV scandal
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