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Karin Pappenheim from the Haemophilia Society
"We are looking for an inquiry"
 real 28k

Sunday, 21 November, 1999, 13:00 GMT
Haemophiliacs pursue compensation fight
Sufferers say the Department of Health was 'warned of the risks'

Haemophiliacs are calling for compensation over claims that thousands of sufferers were infected with the hepatitis C virus.

The Haemophilia Society says more than 110 haemophiliacs have died as a result of being infected in the 1970s and 80s, after being given the blood clotting product, Factor VIII.

Sufferers believe thousands of people were infected because the Department of Health ignored medical advice about the dangers of taking Factor VIII.

As part of the compensation campaign for victims, 15 sufferers and a number of MPs will go to Downing Street on Tuesday to lobby the Government.

Carrying 113 white lilies - one for each haemophiliac it is claimed has died since taking Factor VIII - the campaigners will ask the prime minister for a hardship fund for victims.

'Blood was contaminated'

In Scotland, on Wednesday, more than 20 MSPs will meet with representatives of the society to discuss how the problem has affected Scots.

A Haemophilia Society spokesman said he was unable to say whether legal action would follow this week's campaign, which includes meetings with Government officials.

The spokesman said much of the blood used as a base for Factor VIII was contaminated with the hepatitis C virus, which can lead to chronic liver disease and cancer.

There are hundreds of sufferers who now find it impossible to get life insurance, a mortgage or even long-term jobs because they are carrying the virus
Haemophilia Society spokesman
"We are asking for access to funds which will compensate for the blunders made by the Department of Health prior to 1986."

Haemophiliacs who contracted HIV through Factor VIII have benefited from an 80 million compensation package.

But the Haemophilia Society says those who have contracted the Hepatitis C virus - have not received a penny.

The spokesman said before 1986, when screening procedures were introduced, the Government ignored medical opinion that Factor VIII - carried a high risk of virus infection.

Alternative treatment

The Department of Health has argued that at the time, hepatitis C was thought to be such a mild disorder that the benefits of Factor VIII outweighed any risk.

But it is claimed the Department of Health was advised it was safer to treat sufferers of mild haemophilia with a different product.

The Haemophilia Society argues that more than a third of haemophiliacs suffer so mildly that, had they been warned of the risks, they would have sought alternative treatment.

A spokesman for the Department of Health was unavailable for comment.

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See also:
27 Sep 99 |  Aids
Inquiry begins into contaminated blood
14 Sep 99 |  Scotland
Haemophilia sufferers meet minister
29 Jul 99 |  Health
Hepatitis C tests win approval
08 Apr 99 |  Medical notes
Blood: The risks of infection
15 Oct 98 |  Health
Hepatitis C campaigners won't take no for an answer
28 Jul 98 |  Health
Government rejects compensation for haemophiliacs
22 Jul 98 |  Health
Hepatitis sufferers on the march

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