Infected Blood Inquiry Begins In the UK

At least 7,500 have been infected with either HIV or Hepatitis C.

Kuala Lumpur, 1 May 2019 — A public inquiry into a contaminated blood scandal has begun in London. The inquiry is expected to extend over a period of two to three years, and will look into the circumstances which led to thousands with haemophilia being infected with HIV and hepatitis C in the 70s and 80s.

They became infected after receiving contaminated blood products and transfusions from the UK’s National Health Service. Commercial blood products such as plasma were imported from the US and later found to have been contaminated with HIV, hepatitis C and other viruses.

A 2015 parliamentary report found that 7,500 patients had been infected with either of the two diseases. 3,000 died as a result of the contamination. Besides haemophiliacs, others thought to be exposed to possible infection include those going through routine transfusions or after giving birth.

More than 1,200 witness statements have been submitted. 2.5 million pages of Department of Health documents are being reviewed. Department of Health staff, NHS officials and politicians will be questioned as part of the inquiry.

Victims have called on the UK government to extend mass screening for hepatitis C to prevent more deaths.

UK’s Prime Minister, Theresa May was quoted as saying “The contaminated blood scandal was a tragedy that should never have happened and has caused unimaginable pain and hurt for victims and their families for decades,” May said.

“The start of the inquiry today is a significant moment for those who have suffered so much for so long, as well as for those who campaigned and fought so hard to make it happen.

“I know this will be a difficult time for victims and their families – but today will begin a journey which will be dedicated to getting to the truth of what happened and in delivering justice to everyone involved.”

She pledged additional financial support for those infected as well as affected relatives.

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