Thursday, August 9th, 2001
Thursday, 9 August, 2001
China is the latest country to admit that Aids is cutting a swathe through its population, but Aids-related scandals have dogged many other countries since the 1980s and 1990s.
In April of this year, Canada’s Supreme Court found the Canadian Red Cross guilty of negligence for failing to screen blood donors effectively for HIV infection.
Three suits were brought against the Red Cross by people who received tainted blood. Two of them subsequently died of Aids and the third is HIV positive.
About 2,000 people were infected with HIV and up to 60,000 with Hepatitis C before blood tests began in late 1985.
Blood tests for Aids had not been developed at the time, so screening of donors was the most effective way of preventing infection.
In Italy, a Rome court ordered the Health Ministry in June of this year to pay damages to 351 people who contracted the HIV virus and hepatitis through blood transfusions.
The court said the ministry was too slow to introduce measures to prevent the virus being spread by donated blood, and did not establish proper checks on plasma.
About 100 of the victims – all haemophiliacs – have already died, but the court ruled that their families were entitled to the compensation.
Angelo Magrini, the head of a haemophiliacs’ association, said at the time 1,300 people, including almost 150 children, had died in Italy from infected blood infusions since 1985.
In March this year, a court in Tokyo cleared a former top Aids expert of professional negligence over a scandal that exposed thousands to the HIV virus through tainted blood products.
The high-profile scandal, which grabbed headlines in the mid-1990s, shocked Japan with allegations of a government cover-up and unethical links between big business and bureaucrats.
Japan’s Health Ministry did not ban unheated blood products until December 1985, despite knowing they risked being tainted with HIV.
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