In the 1970s and 1980s the Department of Health bought blood and blood products from the US where intravenous drug users, prostitutes and prison inmates were paid to donate blood known to carry a high risk of infection. At around the same time the DoH sanctioned blood collection from inmates of UK prisons and borstal institutions, despite repeated warnings starting in the 1950s about the risk of hepatitis in 'prison blood'. Evidence shows that some haemophiliacs were targeted as human guinea pigs to see what the infection rate would be from such diseases as HIV and Hepatitis C.
Over 5000 people were infected with a variety of life-threatening conditions. To date, more than 2,000 have died. Click the links on the left to find out how the story unfolded through the decades.
Successive governments refuse to hold a public inquiry into this tragedy. They claim they are blameless and refuse to fully compensate victims. Our message to the Government is this: You say you are innocent - prove it with a full judicial public inquiry! We can only find evidence of your guilt.
The full harrowing story of the contaminated blood disaster unfolded in the Archer Inquiry, an entirely independent, not a Parliamentary or Government inquiry, chaired publicly by The Rt. Hon Lord Archer of Sandwell QC.
The following summary is an extract from the Archer Report (2009):
"Throughout the 1970s and the first half of the 1980s, many in the UK who suffered from haemophilia were treated with blood and blood products which carried what came to be known as Hepatitis C, and some 4,670 patients became infected. Between 1983 and the early 1990s some 1,200 patients were infected with HIV, also through blood products. These infections had caused at least 1,757 deaths in the haemophilia community by the time the Archer Inquiry started in February 2007, and more have occurred subsequently.
By the mid 1970s it was known in medical and Government circles that blood products carried a danger of infection with Hepatitis and that commercially manufactured products from the USA were particularly suspect. By the mid-1980s there were warnings of a similar situation in respect of HIV. But the products continued to be imported and used, often with tragic consequences. The reasons for the chain of decisions that led to this situation, and the alternative options which might have given rise to a different outcome, have been debated since that time."
Read the full Archer Report or read a brief chronology of events through the decades by using the main menu.