Contaminated blood inquiry: Man 'stunned' to learn HIV kept secret

Packs of blood Image copyright SPL
Image caption The inquiry is looking at why 4,800 people with haemophilia were infected with hepatitis C or HIV in the 1970s and 1980s

A haemophiliac who contracted HIV when he was a teenager said he was "stunned" when he found out doctors had kept his infection a secret when he was young.

Martin Beard, 50, told the Infected Blood Inquiry that in 2006 he saw a hospital letter from 1985 saying "every effort" would be made not to tell him.

He said it appeared he had been tested for HIV without his knowledge in 1983.

For years he had been treated at Birmingham Children's Hospital but was not told about it, he said.

The inquiry, currently sitting in Leeds, is looking at why 4,800 people with haemophilia were infected with hepatitis C or HIV in the 1970s and 1980s.

It heard the 1985 letter between hospitals said: "We note that he is HTLV 3 antibody positive (HIV), but is not aware of this and that you do not wish this to be divulged to him. We shall make every effort to comply with your wishes."

Asked how he felt when he saw this letter two decades later, Mr Beard, from Burton-on-Trent, Staffordshire, told the inquiry: "Stunned, absolutely stunned."

Mr Beard described the manner in which he found out about his HIV infection in 1986, after his care was transferred to north Staffordshire.

"All he (a doctor) says is, 'Hello, I see you're HIV positive'," he said.

"I just batted it away and said, 'Oh well, that's life' because I didn't really understand the full implications of it."

A father who believes he contracted hepatitis C through a blood transfusion when he was five said he still worried about cuddling his own children.

Darren Rawson, 36, from Hull, told the inquiry his biggest fear was passing on the infection, even though treatments have cleared him of the virus.

Mr Rawson said: "If I get a bleed or anything, I still think I've got it, to be honest."

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