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April 16, 2006

Haemophilia and HIV

There’s one thing I don’t get about this story:

Hundreds of survivors of one of the worst medical disasters in the history of the NHS are demanding millions of pounds of compensation from the government to alleviate the acute poverty in which many of them are now living.

Haemophiliacs and other patients who were infected with HIV and hepatitis by contaminated blood have presented a detailed case to the Department of Health for one-off payments of up to £750,000 each and a rise in monthly allowances they are already being paid.

They say initial compensation paid in the early Nineties, ranging from £21,000 to £80,000, was calculated on the assumption - widely held by doctors then - that they were facing imminent death.

No, I get the right to compensation, understand the earlier advice about spending the money, not investing it (Looking back from now it’s hard to remember that  HIV was indeed a death sentence, not as now a largely manageable chronic disease. I’ve thought for years that if, say, Freddie Mercury, had lived another year or two then he’d still be alive now.) and so on.

But the bit that gets me is that HIV infection is largely a manageable chronic condition now. It doesn’t preclude work or a career.

An investigation by The Observer has found that many are living in extreme poverty on state benefits and a trickle of cash from a trust fund.


April 16, 2006 in Health Care | Permalink


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I don't know, but there may be a discrimination issue here. HIV was brought into the list of conditions covered by the Disability Discrimination Act last year, at least partly because of evidence that employers were refusing to take on HIV+ people. It may be that it's a condition which doesn't preclude work or a career in principle, but which makes you unemployable (or at least, places you at a substantial disadvantage in the employment market) in practice because people will, irrationally, refuse to take you on.

Whether compensation is a better response to that than enforcing government regulation of employers is a separate question.

Posted by: Tom | Apr 16, 2006 10:07:21 AM

Also haemophilia is, I understand, a debilitating and often difficult-to-control condition. It can't be a great combination to have that and HIV and possibly Hepatitis C, (and the side-effects of the drugs for HIV are still often pretty hideous). If you've got all three, or even two, of those, I suspect it might be hard to hold down a job, any job, but certainly tough to hold down one that pays a decent wage.

Posted by: Natalie Bennett | Apr 16, 2006 10:33:15 PM

because they're haemophiliacs? As I understand it, even before they got HIV these were pretty seriously ill people.

Tim adds: Perfectly happy to be corrected but I thought that haemophilia was itself a chronic but manageable condition?

Posted by: dsquared | Apr 18, 2006 8:08:28 AM