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Contaminated blood inquiry: 'My four brothers died'

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media captionContaminated blood inquiry: "We watched them all die"

A man who is one of six brothers all infected by contaminated blood has told how four of his siblings died.

Giving evidence to the inquiry into the contaminated blood scandal, John Cornes said he was infected with Hepatitis C during treatment for haemophilia.

He said his family had been "ripped apart mentally" and two of his children had changed their surname due to the stigma.

The inquiry is being held in Leeds until 21 June.

It is looking at how thousands of patients were given infected blood products during the 1970s and 1980s in what has repeatedly been called "the worst treatment scandal in the history of the NHS".

Some 4,800 people with haemophilia were infected with Hepatitis C over two decades. More than 2,000 are thought to have died.

image copyrightSPL
image captionThe inquiry is looking into why 4,800 people with haemophilia were infected with hepatitis C or HIV

Mr Cornes, 58, from Kings Heath, Birmingham, told the hearing three of his brothers were infected with HIV and died in the 1990s.

Gary, 26, died in 1992, Roy, also 26, died in 1994 and Gordon, 40, in 1995.

Another brother, who was also infected with Hepatitis C, died two years ago.

Mr Cornes said Roy unwittingly "infected a girl with HIV and she died before he died".

"The press got hold of it and came down on the family, they ripped the family apart mentally," he said.

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Mr Cornes said they were known as "the scumbags" or "the Aids family" in Birmingham, with 50 reporters hiding in hedges at Gary's funeral to take photographs.

Gary's wife also contracted HIV and died in 2000, he added.

He said: "I have got a load of nephews and nieces from the brothers who have died and I have nephews that haven't got a mother or a father.

"So it's affected at least 30 of my family, so I am here to represent not just the infected, but also the affected."

media captionWidow of Yorkshire victim wants justice for all.

He compared the treatment of his family to what the Irish community went through in Birmingham in the aftermath of the 1974 pub bombings.

He said: "If you were Irish you would be beaten up, there was a real bad atmosphere.

"What happened to our family was exactly the same thing, the 'Aids family'. It wasn't their fault and it wasn't our fault, what happened to us."

Mr Cornes, who started to receive treatment for haemophilia in the late 1970s, said that as children "the only treatment was transfusions with ice cold packs to stop the bleeding".

When asked if he was given any warnings about potential problems with the treatment, he replied: "We weren't given none.. we didn't know anything about viruses or anything like that."

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