What is the Contaminated Blood Scandal?

The Factor 8 Scandal, or, Contaminated Blood Scandal is the event of 3,891 people in the UK (mostly Haemophiliacs) being infected with Hepatitis C or Hepatitis C & HIV (co-infected) by a commercial Medicine known as a Factor VIII, or, in some cases, Factor IX.

People using these products began to be infected with Hepatitis from 1973 when the products were first licensed for use in the UK.

Throughout the 1970’s Factor concentrates began to be used more often and by the late 1970’s they had become the most commonly prescribed treatment for Haemophilia. Before this time, the previously most prescribed treatment was Cryoprecipitate which was safer because each unit was derived from the blood-plasma of just 1 donor.

Factor products on the other hand were dangerous because they were created by mixing together the plasma donations of tens of thousands of people who, in the case of imported products, were often high risk, many Plasma donors in the United States and elsewhere were paid or fell into other high-risk groups for viral risk which included Prisoners, Prostitutes, IV Drug Users, Homosexuals and others.

During the 1980’s most of England’s Factor VIII supply was being imported from overseas because the country had not honoured a commitment made by David Owen in 1975 to become self-sufficient in Factor VIII and also because decision-makers had chosen not to act upon the many warnings about the use of these products.

Of the 3,891 people infected with Hepatitis C, 1,243 of them were additionally infected with HIV (the virus that leads to AIDS), "co-infected" by both viruses. It is generally thought that anybody who used Factor concentrate products before 1985 was exposed to Hepatitis C and most of those people were infected with the virus.

The Factor medicine that Haemophiliacs were given at this time was laced with lethal viruses due to a series of catastrophic errors, delays, failures, commercial influence and bad practice.

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It was all avoidable.

Calls for a Public Inquiry to examine events were steadfastly refused for decades, Margaret Thatcher had denied an investigation and so had every subsequent Government. However, in 2017 Theresa May announced that an Inquiry would now be held.

By 1996, the majority of Haemophiliacs who had been infected with both HIV & Hep C were dead. Those infected with HIV had also endured the most brutal period of AIDS stigma.

You can read more about the fall-out of the Contaminated Blood Scandal and get detailed statistics here.