HIV, hep C tests urged for pre-1992 patients

HAEMOPHILIACS who may have received blood products contaminated with HIV or hepatitis C before 1992 are being urged to come forward to be tested for the viruses.

While experts believe that less than 10 people are involved, the National Haemophilia Council (NHC) is anxious that they come forward and avail of the very effective treatments now available.

Of the 160 haemophiliacs infected with HIV, 64 have died while of the 220 infected with hepatitis C, 20 have died.

The National Centre for Hereditary Coagulation Disorders (NCHCD), based in St James’s Hospital in Dublin, has 1,382 registered patients and all are offered tests for HIV and hepatitis C.

The centre, however, is anxious to make contact with those who are not registered and may have been exposed to infected product.

All but six registered haemophiliacs who may have received treatment with clotting factor concentrates prior to 1992 have been tested for HIV and hepatitis C.

The six patients who could not be traced have not attended the centre in the last 20 years. An examination of their records, however, found it was unlikely that they received blood clotting products.

All haemophiliacs are now treated with a synthetic clotting agent introduced in 1997 to eliminate the infection risk from products made from blood donations.

Helplines have now been set up by the NCHCD (1800 200849), the Irish Haemophilia Society (IHS) (1850 872872) and Irish Blood Transfusion Service (1800 222111) and will remain open until Friday.

“In the event that any additional persons are diagnosed with either virus we will ensure that all possible help and assistance are provided in an expeditious manner,” he said.

National haemophilia director at the NCHCD, Dr Barry White, said the latest campaign was the end of a long process that involved three previous targeted look back programmes, two optional national screening programmes and a long term testing programme at the centre.

“The ideal look back would have been to be able to trace every single product to an individual patient. Unfortunately, we can’t do that because of the quality of the record keeping at the time,” said Dr White.

Dr White pointed out that an electronic tracking system for blood products, introduced in 2004, was proving to be 100% effective.

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