British High Court Awards £750,000 to Man Who Contracted a Form of HIV Virus from Infected Blood Used During Surgery

Alan Best, a former MG Rover worker, from Bromsgrove, Worcs (UK), has been awarded £750,000 ($1,400,000) by the High Court in Birmingham (UK) as a result of being given a tainted blood transfusion from which he contracted a form of the HIV virus.

One of the five units of blood the 64-year-old Mr. Best received during an operation at a private hospital was infected with the T-Cell Lymphotophic Virus Type 1 (HTLV-1).

The National Blood Service (NBS) admitted providing defective blood, which it had failed to screen for the virus.
At the time of the surgery in 1995, the UK did not test blood for the rare virus. The NBS began testing for HTLV in 2002. It introduced the use of leucodepletion, which greatly reduces the risk of transmitting the illness, only in 1998-99.

As a result of receiving the infected blood, Mr. Best developed HTLV-associated myelopathy, a rare and debilitating blood-transmitted disease which affects the central nervous system and which could eventually confine him to a wheel chair.

Mr. Best explained that, because of physical deterioration, he had to give up his job as a toolmaker at the former Longbridge factory in 2000, where he had worked for more than 40 years.

He said he began to have physical problems a year after the operation when his legs became unsteady.  "Although I had lost more than four stone in weight and had been left very weak (after the operation), I thought it was just a matter of time before I got back to normal. Then I started having unsteadiness in my legs.”
After he lost sensation in his toes, it was two years before doctors diagnosed him with HTLV-1. When the National Blood Service was notified of Mr. Best’s illness, an investigation was quickly organized and, under Consumer Protection legislation laws, a settlement was finally negotiated, after seven years.

Major Study Shows Asians Suffer Same Dire Consequences from Smoking as Everyone Else 

The largest study into the effects of smoking in Asia indicates that Asian populations are just as susceptible to the negative impacts of tobacco use, including coronary heart disease and stroke, as Westerners
The results of the study will be published in a paper from the George Institute for International Health in the International Journal of Epidemiology.

The paper indicates the myth that smoking is less harmful to Asians than to Caucasians may contribute to the high prevalence of smoking in Asian countries, the low quitting rates amongst Asian male smokers, and the spread of smoking among Asian women.

The new study is considered more accurate in estimating the relative effects of smoking than previous ones because of the number of individuals involved.

Prof. Mark Woodward, Director of the Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the George Institute, who lead the study, commented that "the study, which involved data analysis of almost 500,000 Asians and 100,000 Australasians, shows that smoking poses the same risks to Asian men (and an even greater risk to Asian women) as compared to Western populations. The study also makes clear that there are real benefits to be gained, in terms of huge numbers of lives to be saved, by effectively implementing campaigns in Asia to quit smoking."

An important finding of the research was the identification of smoking is an independent risk factor for hemorrhagic stroke.

The most common type of stroke in Asia, hemorrhagic stroke, is more likely than ischemic stroke to lead to death in a short time.

Even more significantly, the study showed that Asians who smoke have roughly the same increased proportional cardiovascular risks as Westerners and a similar relative reduction in risk from quitting.

The results of the study also indicate that younger people and women have increased relative risks of cardiovascular disease from smoking than others. The study estimated that there will be over 500 million female smokers worldwide within 20 years.

Prof. Woodward underscored the importance of public health programs in Asia to dispel the prevalent belief that quitting smoking can be harmful. Anti-tobacco campaigns, he says, should especially be directed at Asian women to counteract the increase in smoking in this population,

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