The first witness of the Day, Mr AN, spoke to the Inquiry about how he was infected with HIV from Factor VIII products used to treat his haemophilia A in 1985. Mr AN had been married for around a year and he and his wife were advised to terminate their pregnancy based on his diagnosis. Mr AN was also informed 10 years later in 1995 that he had hepatitis C.
Mr AN explained to the Inquiry the impact his HIV diagnosis had on his family life, leading to the eventual breakdown of his marriage. His ex-wife later found out that she had contracted the HIV virus from him. Mr AN further explained how his career had been impacted, with his condition meaning that he was unable to accept a promising job offer in the United States. Mr AN went on to explain the problems he and others he knows have had with the MacFarlane Trust and EIBSS when seeking financial support.
Mr AN shared with the Inquiry that he has been left with a distrust for medical professionals as a result of his experience with contaminated blood. He stated that he has learned over the years that it is sometimes necessary to be argumentative with medical professionals. He explained how in 2000 he went on a successful treatment strike against Factor VIII products as he feared he would be given a further infection. He told the Inquiry that he had a similar experience refusing treatment for hepatitis C in 2005. He plans to start medication soon for the hepatitis C as he feels more comfortable with the treatment options now available.
Frankie, the former wife of the first witness, spoke to the Inquiry about how contaminated blood products have impacted upon her life. She told the Inquiry of the two occasions she had to terminate pregnancies because of doctors advising her she should because of her husband’s HIV status. As a young married couple they felt they had to listen to the advice of their doctors. Frankie described the second termination she was advised to have as particularly traumatic, with the medical professionals being cold and unsympathetic. Frankie told the inquiry that the fact she had two terminations as a result of the contaminated blood scandal is something she struggles to live with on a daily basis.
Frankie shared how the impact of her husband’s HIV contributed to the breakdown of their relationship, causing her to leave in around 1997/1998. After a few months Frankie became increasingly unwell which she then found out was because she was now HIV positive. Frankie spoke about the treatment she has received over the years for HIV, noting how destructive the medication has been. She was never offered counselling or support to deal with her experiences and she has only recently started to have trauma therapy from a clinical psychologist.
Frankie shared that in her experience women who have been infected with HIV the way she has been have often been overlooked in regard to help from bodies like the Macfarlane Trust. She noted how the MacFarlane Trust used the term “an infected intimate” to describe her and others like her – a term she finds particularly offensive.
The last witness of the day was Amanda who spoke to the Inquiry about her late husband, Andrew, who passed away as a result of contaminated blood. Andrew was diagnosed with severe haemophilia A as a baby and from 1977 he was treated with Factor VIII products. Amanda met Andrew when she was working at Treloars School as a house parent and in 1986 they began dating. She told the Inquiry that Andrew did not know at this time if he had been infected with HIV although she had heard at Treloars of boys being infected. Amanda said she believed Andrew found out he was HIV positive in early 1987.
When Amanda found out Andrew was HIV positive, she thought that they would have no hope of having a family together. Amanda explained the lengthy process they went through in order to try to have children, including going to Italy for sperm washing. Unfortunately, this was unsuccessful, and they were not able to try the sperm washing again. Amanda confessed that even the happy times she had together with her husband were tainted by the fear of losing him.
Amanda told the Inquiry about the terrible side effects Andrew experienced from the HIV medication he was given, including hallucinations and vivid nightmares; the side effects were so severe he had to be taken off the medication. She explained the deterioration of Andrew’s health leading to his eventual death and noted that she felt on occasion she had to fight with medical professionals for the right treatment. Amanda explained to the inquiry the impact that contaminated blood had on Treloars School with many former pupils losing their lives.
Amanda ended her testimony by reading from her diary. She stated that she believes haemophiliacs were used to experiment on with various treatments and had been considered a drain on public resources. She said it is now the turn of those who were involved in the chain of command of the decisions to be made to lay awake at night fearing what the future may hold.