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Aids

Volume 124: debated on Thursday 17 December 1987

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To ask the Secretary of State for Social Services if, pursuant to the answer of 4 December, Official Report, column 759, he will take steps to collect the available information on the proportions of homosexuals presenting themselves for treatment at sexually transmitted diseases clinics in (a) London and (b) the rest of England who are found to be HIV positive.

There are difficulties in securing accurate information on the proportions of homosexuals presenting for treatment at genito-urinary medicine clinics who are HIV positive because individuals may not admit to being homosexual or those who do may not agree to be tested for HIV. However, details of all positive HIV tests in England and Wales are reported in confidence to the Communicable Diseases Surveillance Centre. Where available this includes information on the risk behaviour of the individual involved. From next year it is proposed to collect from genito-urinary medicine clinics the numbers of new cases of HIV infection presenting. Clinicians will be asked, where possible, to distinguish those infections which are thought to be homosexually acquired. Details of negative tests are not sought (with the exception of data required for special studies) because of the great deal of work that would be involved.

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Services if, pursuant to his answer of 4 December, Official Report, column 759, he will list the membership of the group of experts monitoring HIV infection rates; and when he expects them to report on the likely number of AIDS infections in the United Kingdom in 1991.

The members of the group which is considering the monitoring and surveillance of HIV infection and AIDS are:

  • Dr. J. W. G. Smith, (Chairman) Director, Public Health Laboratory Service (PHLS).
  • Professor M. Adler, Academic Department of Genitourinary medicine, University College and Middlesex Hospital School of Medicine.
  • Dr. N. S. Galbraith, Director, PHLS Communicable Disease Surveillance Centre.
  • Professor A. Glynn, Director, Central Public Health Laboratory and Head, PHLS AIDS Co-ordinating Centre.
  • Professor M. J. R. Healy, Professor of Medical Statistics, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
  • Professor M. Marmot, Professor of Community Medicine, University College, London.
  • Dr. D. Reid, Director, Communicable Diseases (Scotland) Unit.

Observers

  • Dr. R. G. Covell, Senior Medical Officer, Scottish Home and Health Department.
  • Dr. D. James, Board Secretary, Medical Division, Medical Research Council.
  • Ms H. Hillier, Statistician, Department of Health and Social Security.

Secretariat

  • Dr. G. Greenberg, Senior Medical Officer, Department of Health and Social Security.
  • Mr. J. Griffiths, Senior Executive Office, Department of Health and Social Security.

We hope to receive the group's report early in January 1988. As I said in my earlier reply it is hoped that any improvements that result from the group's recommendations will produce better data on HIV infection and AIDS which can be used as a basis for forecasting numbers of cases in the future.

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Services in how many cases non-haemophiliacs have contracted the AIDS virus following blood transfusions given in or before October 1985.

Since October 1985 the national blood transfusion service has screened all blood donations for antibodies to HIV. Before screening could be made available to the service, a small number of patients in the United Kingdom received blood infected with the virus. Eight of these have since developed AIDS, of whom seven have died.

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will consider making to those persons who contracted the AIDS virus, following a blood transfusion given in or before October 1985, payments which are similar to those that will be made to haemophiliacs who contracted the AIDS virus through blood transfusions.

The Government have provided special financial help for haemophiliacs infected with HIV in recognition of their wholly exceptional circumstances which I explained to the House in my statement on 16 November. After careful consideration we concluded that this combination of circumstances does not apply to those who have unfortunately become infected with HIV through blood transfusions and that similar financial help is therefore not appropriate.