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Victims of infected blood scandal rally in Westminster

VICTIMS of the infected blood scandal rallied at Westminster yesterday ahead of the release of the final report into the tragedy. 

Nearly 30,000 people were infected with HIV and hepatitis C through contaminated blood products in the 1970s and 1980s, in one of the worst treatment disasters in NHS history.

More than 3,000 people have died as a result. 

A one-minute silence was held to remember those who lost their lives. 

The Hepatitis C Trust asked those attending to wear red to symbolise unity and to bring photos of lost loved ones.

After the BBC announced that an estimated 1,750 people are living with undiagnosed hepatitis C earlier this month, the charity said that there has been a surge in home-testing kits. More than 12,800 kits have been requested in just over a week compared with 2,300 for the whole of April. 

One group of people particularly affected were haemophiliacs. The Haemophilia Society has said that the release of the report “marks a seismic moment in the long fight for truth and justice for people with haemophilia.”

Haemophilia is an inherited disorder in which blood is unable to clot properly.

In the 1970s a new treatment promised to replace the missing clot agent, made from donated blood plasma.

But many of the for-cash donations came from high-risk sources and more than 6,000 people with haemophilia and other bleeding disorders were infected with hepatitis. Out of these, 1,250 were infected with both hepatitis and HIV, and only 250 are them are alive today.

Kate Burt, chief executive of the charity, said: “Radical change must result from this inquiry if we are to learn the lessons of the past and protect future generations from harm.”

A government spokesperson said: ““We are clear that justice needs to be done and swiftly, which is why have acted in amending the Victims & Prisoners Bill.

“This includes establishing a new body to deliver an infected blood compensation scheme, confirming the government will make the required regulations for it within three months of royal assent, and that it will have all the funding needed to deliver compensation once they have identified the victims and assessed claims.”

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