How 175 children became infected with HIV amid ‘worst treatment disaster in NHS history’

Thousands were infected with contaminated blood in the NHS treatment scandal (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
Thousands were infected with contaminated blood in the NHS treatment scandal (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

At least 175 children with the blood disorder haemophilia were infected with HIV in the 1980s, it has been reported.

Documents have shed a light on how young people were affected in what has been called the worst treatment disaster in NHS history.

It comes amid an inquiry into the contaminated blood scandal, which saw thousands of patients given blood products that were infected with HIV and hepatitis C in the 1970s and 1980s.

Around 2,400 are estimated to have died as a result, while many have been left with serious disabilities. There are believed to be more than 4,000 surviving victims.

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Parents whose children were given infected blood at children’s hospitals were set to give evidence to the inquiry on Thursday.

Documents from the national archive show 175 children with haemophilia - which stops blood clotting properly - were infected with HIV after being given contaminated blood products in the 1980s, according to the BBC.

They had been given the blood plasma treatment Factor VIII by NHS doctors in hospitals, schools and clinics.

One of them was Michael, who was diagnosed with HIV aged 16 and died a week before his 26th birthday.

His mother Linda said her son developed health problems in his late teens, including night sweats and glandular fever.

“He never told his friends or anything because he just wanted to feel normal,” she told the broadcaster.

She is one of the families given evidence in the inquiry. “We all want to know why it was allowed to happen and to keep on happening as well,” she said.

The contaminated blood scandal has been described as the “worst treatment disaster in the history of the NHS” by Lord Robert Winston and an “appalling tragedy” by Theresa May, who announced the inquiry while prime minister in 2017.

The government has pledged to give compensation payments of no less than £100,000 to all infected blood victims and bereaved partners.

This was announced shortly after it had been recommended by the chair of the infected blood scandal, Sir Brian Langstaff.

Ministers said the interim compensation would be paid “as soon as possible” when it made its announcement in August.

A Department of Health and Social Care Spokesperson said: “The infected blood tragedy should never have happened and the ongoing public inquiry was set up to get to the truth and give families the answers they deserve.

“We are committed to co-operating fully with the inquiry and will carefully consider any recommendations.”