Legal, financial, and public health consequences of transfusion-transmitted hepatitis C virus in persons with haemophilia

C. Angelotta, J. M. McKoy, M. J. Fisher, C. G. Buffie, K. Barfi, G. Ramsey, L. Frohlich, C. L. Bennett*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

16 Scopus citations


Background: Since the first cases of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome in persons with haemophilia were reported in 1982, much has been written about the consequences of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) contamination of the blood supply. Relatively little attention has been paid to similar hepatitis C virus (HCV) concerns since the first cases of HCV-infected persons with haemophilia were identified in 1989. Methods: We review the history, public health, policy, and financial consequences of blood supply policy decisions made for persons with haemophilia who received HCV-contaminated blood products in eight countries that were severely impacted by viral contamination of the blood supply during the 1980s, contrasting these findings with those reported previously for HIV contamination of the blood supply during the same time-period. A Medline search and a hand search of retrieved bibliographies of English-language articles on HCV concerns in haemophilia patients published from 1989 to 2006 were performed. Results: Our review identified that two- to eightfold more persons with haemophilia in the eight countries contracted HCV vs. HIV from contaminated blood products during the 1980s. Opportunistic infections and immunosuppression-related complications among persons with haemophilia developed shortly after these patients received HIV-infected blood products whereas hepatic complications among HCV-infected persons with haemophilia are just now being diagnosed two decades after these individuals received HCV-contaminated blood products. Policy makers in four countries conducted official public inquiries into blood safety decisions related to HIV- and/or HCV-contamination of the blood supply. More than 20 countries allocated compensation funds for HIV-infected persons with haemophilia (mean award ranging from $37 000 to 400 000) whereas only the UK, Canada, and Ireland allocated compensation funds for HCV-infected persons with haemophilia (mean award ranging from $37 000 to 50 000). Conclusion: While the clinical impact among persons with haemophilia of HCV contamination of the blood supply in the 1980s was larger than the impact of HIV contamination of the blood supply during this time-period, the policy response was smaller. Consideration should be given to adopting support programmes for HCV-infected persons with haemophilia in countries that do not have these programs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)159-165
Number of pages7
JournalVox Sanguinis
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 1 2007



  • Adverse effects
  • Blood transfusion
  • Haemophilia
  • Hepatitis C virus
  • Human immunodeficiency virus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hematology

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