East Lancs man wants public inquiry into scandal that saw him infected with HIV virus

AN East Lancashire man hopes a public inquiry will finally force the government to apologise for a scandal which saw him infected with the HIV virus.

Lord Penrose has spent five years examining the ‘tainted blood’ scandal for the Scottish Government, but is expected to publish a report in the new year.

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, 4,800 British haemophiliacs were infected with Hepatitis C through their NHS treatment, with more than 1,200 also infected with HIV, the virus that leads to AIDS.

More than 800 have already died, and although 58-year-old John Smith [not his real name] has so far survived, he said HIV has ‘ruined his life’. He now hopes the British Government will accept the findings of the Scottish Inquiry, and end his 30-year battle for financial compensation and an official apology.

No fault has ever been admitted by the Government or pharmaceutical companies which supplied the contaminated blood products, meant to help haemophiliacs treat their condition.

Much of the blood is thought to have come from the US where it was taken from ‘skid row’ donors, such as prison inmates, whose risk of infections was high.

Mr Smith, who lives in Blackburn, said: “The results of the Penrose inquiry are due in March and we hope it will bring the whole issue into the open again.

“When I first found out I had contracted HIV I was given two or three years life expectancy and I’ve been living every year since as if it was my last. I’ve lost friends through having HIV and I never expected to see my kids grow up.

“Doctors have given up trying to estimate how long I’ll live now, but I feel it’s ruined my life.”

While patients who have developed serious liver conditions have received lump sum payments of up to £50,000, victims like Mr Smith have received just £90 a year to pay for prescriptions because he has not yet developed serious problems.

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