Between the 1970s and the early 1990s, at least 28,000 people in the U.K. were given contaminated blood. Almost 4,000 of those who received the blood products — mostly haemophiliacs — became infected with HIV, hepatitis C, or both.
So far, 2,800 people have died.
The British media has widely referred to the contaminated blood scandal as the “worst disaster in the history of the U.K.’s National Health Service.” The horrors of what happened are almost too shocking to be believed, involving medical negligence, government cover-ups and corporate greed. A government-ordered inquiry began in January, and it aims to get to the bottom of what went wrong and provide long-overdue answers for those affected.
“The contaminated blood scandal has affected so many lives in so many ways and is a real tragedy,” HuffPost U.K. reporter Aasma Day said.
This week, Aasma shone a spotlight on the stories of the women affected by the scandal. She heard from some women who were infected with hepatitis C, which can be deadly, after receiving a blood transfusion following childbirth. Many of them had never told their stories publicly before.
“For years, many women went to their doctors saying they were suffering from extreme fatigue, anxiety and depression — but a lot of them were sent away and told their symptoms were just down to busy lives with young children,” she said.
She also spoke to the too-often-forgotten peripheral victims of this tragedy: the widows, wives and daughters of those who received the contaminated blood, who are searching for justice. More than 300 people affected by the scandal are campaigning for a national screening program to test anyone who may have been given infected blood, for fear there may be many more people who aren’t getting the necessary treatment.
Giving voice to these women is crucial, Aasma said: “The women, and everyone affected by this scandal, should be praised for their bravery and courage in raising awareness by speaking out and pushing for a test which could lead to more victims being uncovered and treated.”
I hope you’ll enjoy this week’s newsletter from London. As always, thanks for reading.
Until next time,
As many as 79 million Americans are currently infected with the human papillomavirus, some strains of which have been linked to an increased risk of cancer. That’s men and women — so how come women typically carry the stigma of it? Mostly because there’s currently no approved HPV test for men, meaning men simply aren’t routinely tested for the virus like women are, Jenna Birch wrote for HuffPost U.S. She spoke to experts to find out why women are being forced to carry the stigma of something that can affect anyone.
HuffPost Canada’s Al Donato spoke to several Canadian sex workers about their experiences with stigma, and the havoc that being outed can wreak on their lives and families. For some, being outed led to a loss of earnings. For others, it meant losing their family or their second, more “mainstream” job. For one woman, being outed led to her being institutionalized in a psychiatric facility. This deep dive into the state of Canada’s sex work laws is a thought-provoking read.