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Last Updated: Saturday, 26 May 2007, 13:43 GMT 14:43 UK
Blood infection probe to be held
Blood bag
An inquiry into how contaminated blood was given to patients
A public inquiry is to be held in Scotland into how people were infected with hepatitis C and HIV from blood products in the 70s and 80s.

The new SNP-run Scottish Executive said an investigation would be "the best way forward", after years of campaigning by haemophiliacs.

A privately-funded independent inquiry is currently being held in London.

The full remit and timing of the Scottish inquiry will be finalised after the Archer inquiry reports.

Labour peer Lord Archer of Sandwell, a former solicitor general, is leading the independent inquiry, which is due to report in late summer.

'Good faith'

Some 5,000 people in the UK were exposed to hepatitis C and of these more than 1,200 were also infected with HIV.

Victims, and relatives of some of the more than 1,700 patients who died, have been addressing the privately-funded hearing.

The government has always said treatments were given in "good faith".

Haemophilia is a rare inherited bleeding disorder in which blood does not clot normally.

A public inquiry in Scotland to find out why people were infected with hepatitis through NHS treatment is the best way forward
Scottish Executive spokesman

Currently, the condition can only be treated by injections of the clotting chemical, known as Factor VIII.

In the early 1970s, patients were treated with blood proteins that came in dry powder form and could then be reconstituted with water - plasma from 10,000 donors went into the product.

The treatment, which often came from patients in the United States who were paid for giving blood, exposed 4,670 patients to hepatitis C infection.

In 1981 it was also found that some plasma products were infected with HIV.

After the mid-1980s the plasma products were treated with heat to kill viruses.

A spokesman for the executive said: "The Scottish government believes in a more accountable health service, and a public inquiry in Scotland to find out why people were infected with hepatitis through NHS treatment is the best way forward.

"Clearly, we will wish to assess the findings of the Archer inquiry before deciding exactly when and how to proceed."

Haemophiliac Philip Dolan explains his situation


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