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Volume 116: debated on Tuesday 12 May 1987

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asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what representations he has received calling for compensation to be paid to patients who contract AIDS from blood supplied by the National Health Service; and if he will make a statement.

The Department has not received any representations regarding compensaton for patients who may have contracted AIDS following transfusion of whole blood. The risk of human immunodeficiency virus infection from whole blood has always been very small and since October 1985 has been reduced to minimal proportions by the introduction of screening for all blood donations.Details of the numbers of representations for compensation for those infected with HIV from blood products, were given in my reply to the right hon. Member for Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale (Mr. Steel) on 19 March at column


asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what training is made available to port medical officers to enable them to diagnose AIDS sufferers.

All port medical inspectors are fully qualified and experienced medical practitioners. Their professional qualifications are sufficient to enable them to assess the health of persons referred by immigration officers to them for medical examination, and to make the appropriate recommendation.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will give his most recent projections of the numbers of people (a) who will be suffering from AIDS and (b) who will be carrying the HIV virus for each of the next five years.

The communicable disease surveillance centre, which collects information about persons suffering from AIDS, has predicted that the number of new cases of AIDS will be 1,300 in 1987 and 3,000 in 1988. As yet there are insufficient data for reliable forecasts beyond 1988 to be made.Forecasts of the numbers of persons infected with the human immunodeficiency virus have not been made. The numbers currently infected in the United Kingdom are estimated to be about 40,000.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will give his most recent estimate of the average total cost (a) to the National Health Service and (b) to local authority social services of caring for and treating a person suffering from AIDS.

I regret that this information is not available. The best estimate of the average total hospital in-patient cost of caring for a person with AIDS is £17,600 from diagnosis to death.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services when his Department first became aware that supplies of Factor VIII were contaminated; and if he will make a statement.

I assume that my hon. Friend is concerned with the transmission of the AIDS virus. Evidence emerged from the United States of America in 1982 that haemophiliacs were contracting AIDS and although the mechanism of infection was not known, it was presumed that it had been transmitted through the use of blood products such as Factor VIII.It was not until October 1984 that experimental work showed that the human immunodeficiency virus in Factor VIII could be inactivated by heat treatment. Following this discovery manufacturers took steps to increase supplies of heat treated Factor VIII. All Factor VIII now used by haemophiliacs in this country is heat treated.The new Blood Products Laboratory at Elstree was officially opened last month. Substantial production is expected from this facility later this year, building up to self-sufficiency in early 1989.