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Thursday, May 11, 2006

Bill Clinton Attracts Protest In Scotland

Another Clinton scandal just won't die:

Scots infected with HIV protested Bill Clinton's appearance in Glasgow yesterday, highlighting the former president's connection to a scandal in which tainted blood from high-risk Arkansas prisoners was used to treat thousands of people in Europe who later came down with AIDS and hepatitis.

Clinton was in Scotland to address a business conference but was met with protesters outside the event who say he is culpable for their illnesses.

In the early 1980s, while Clinton was serving as governor of Arkansas, his administration awarded a contract to Health Management Associates to provide medical care to the state's prisoners. The president of the company was a long-time friend and political ally of Clinton and was later appointed by him to the Arkansas Industrial Development Commission. Later, he was among the senior members of Clinton's 1990 gubernatorial re-election team.

As part of the deal HMA struck with Arkansas, in addition to treating the prisoners, the company collected their blood and sold it. Because of the exploding AIDS crisis, U.S. regulations didn't permit the sale of prisoners' blood within the country. But HMA found a willing buyer in Montreal, which brokered a deal with Connaught, a Toronto blood-fractionator, which didn't know the source of the supplies. The blood plasma was distributed throughout Canada by the Red Cross. Sales continued until 1983, when HMA revealed that some of the plasma might be contaminated with the AIDS virus and hepatitis. The blood was also peddled overseas.

Thousands of unwitting hemophiliacs who received transfusions of a product called "Factor 8" made from this blood died as a result.

One protester speaks out:

"I needed Factor 8 because I was in pain, but in being given that treatment I was given a death sentence," a protester in Glasgow told BBC.

As a result of the tainted blood product, the man, who did not want to be named, was infected with both HIV and hepatitis C at age 14.

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