Helpline set up after blood-products alert

Haemophilia patients who received certain blood products in Irish hospitals before 1992 were today urged to come forward to be tested for HIV or Hepatitis C.

Haemophilia patients who received certain blood products in Irish hospitals before 1992 were today urged to come forward to be tested for HIV or Hepatitis C.

Three national helplines have been set up to track down affected people and immediately test them for the viruses.

However experts estimate that few people are involved as there have been three previous information campaigns on the issue.

The National Haemophilia Council (NHC) said that 84 haemophiliacs have died from HIV and Hepatitis C in recent years.

The National Centre for Hereditary Coagulation Disorders (NCHCD) has also written to the country’s GPs and asked them to check their records to help track patients.

Helplines have been set up by the NCHCD, the NHC and the Irish Haemophiliac Society (HIS) to provide information to callers.

NHC director, Dr Barry White, said people who received the plasma-derived clotting factor concentrates will be tested immediately and given every possible assistance.

“The latest information campaign is the end of a process which has involved three previous targeted programmes – two optional national screening programmes and a long-term ongoing testing programme at the NCHCD.

“Consequently we do not expect this current information campaign to identify a large number of additional people who are at risk,” added Dr White.

HIS committee member, Brian O’Mahony, said: “Of the 220 patients with haemophilia who have been infected with Hepatitis C, 20 have died. Of the 106 infected with HIV, 64 have died.

“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.”

The NCHCD has currently 1,382 registered patients with haemophilia and related bleeding disorders who have all been tested for the viruses.

The country’s GPs have been notified of the campaign and all patients registered at the NCHCD database who received treatment prior to 1992.

The NCHCD’s 1800 200 849 helpline will operate from 10am to 4pm until Friday, June 24.

Any person who requires testing or further discussion will be given an immediate appointment at the NCHCD or appropriate regional centre.

The HIS is also operating a 1850 872 872 helpline from 8am – 7pm until June 24.

The Irish Blood Transfusion Service (IBTS) will operate it’s own 1800 222 111 helpline from 10am – 6pm until June 24 to deal with any questions from blood-transfusion recipients.

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