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Hemophilia Group Says U.K. Government May Not Compensate Families of Hemophiliacs Who Acquired Hepatitis C From Blood Supply

October 30, 2003

The British Hemophilia Society on Tuesday said it is afraid that the U.K. government will not compensate widows and dependents of hemophiliacs who were infected with hepatitis C through contaminated blood products, London's Guardian reports. The group believes that the government will limit compensatory payments to approximately $34,000 for an infected individual and $42,500 for an infected individual with advanced disease. Dependents and successfully treated patients are not likely to benefit from the payments, according to the Guardian. The society believes that "more generous" payments should be made based on the number of dependants the person supports, the Guardian reports (Meikle, Guardian, 10/29). According to a report prepared by the society, 95% of the nation's hemophiliacs were treated with contaminated blood products between 1969 and 1985, resulting in 2,829 cases of hepatitis C among hemophiliacs who live in the United Kingdom today. The society said that compensation is needed because of the loss of income and difficulty obtaining insurance many hemophiliacs with the disease have experienced as a result of their progressive condition (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 6/20/02).

HIV, Hepatitis C Coinfection
It is not clear whether hemophiliacs coinfected with HIV and hepatitis C will be eligible for the payments, according to the Guardian. The U.K. government has paid a total of $58 million to compensate 1,240 individuals infected with HIV due to contaminated blood and had HIV-positive individuals sign a waiver that promised that they would not also seek compensation for hepatitis C. HIV and hepatitis C advocates said that having co-infected individuals sign the waiver was "unfair," according to the Guardian. The society planned to meet with Health Minister Melanie Johnson on Wednesday to seek more compensation. The U.K. government has never admitted responsibility for the contaminated blood supply, but Health Secretary John Reid said that he would like to end the "embarrassing row" with the society (Guardian, 10/29).

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