Hepatitis C may bring repeat of haemophiliacs' Aids battle

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By the time the NHS introduced the screening of blood products in 1985, 1,200 haemophiliacs had been infected by the Aids virus, writes Mary Braid.

It was 1990 before the Government reached a pounds 42m out-of-court settlement with affected haemophiliacs or their families. By then victims were dying at the rate of one a week. More than 150 adults and children had died of Aids-related illnesses and 210 had developed full-blown Aids. Most had been infected by the anti-clotting agent Factor VIII.

The settlement, under John Major, came only two months after Margaret Thatcher and Kenneth Clarke, the then Health Secretary, had ruled it out. But William Waldegrave, Mr Clarke's successor, said he had ``seldom seen a stronger humanitarian case''.

The deal meant pounds 60,000 for married haemophiliacs with children, pounds 32,000 for married childless couples, pounds 23,000 for single men and pounds 21,000 for each of 175 infected children. People infected by haemophiliac partners received pounds 23,000. But the Haemophilia Society argued it was too little, too late. It had demanded pounds 90m on top of pounds 34m ex-gratia payments already made.