Aids deaths highlighted by infected blood inquiry chairman on World Aids Day

The infected blood inquiry chairman has highlighted the number of people who have died from Aids ahead of taking evidence on World Aids Day.

Sir Brian Langstaff began proceedings on Tuesday morning by shining a light on Aids victims and the “long, drawn-out suffering, not just for the person infected”.

The inquiry heard from Professor Christopher Ludlam, formerly of Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, who gave evidence remotely as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Sir Brian said: “If the spotlight of the inquiry this week is on Edinburgh in Scotland, there is a spotlight in the world today on Aids. Today is World Aids Day.

“No one could doubt the serious threat that Covid-19 poses to all of us – indeed, is the reason we have to take the evidence in the manor which reduces the risks.

“But we should not forget, even as deaths from Covid approach one-and-a-half million worldwide, that nearly 33 million people worldwide have so far died of Aids.

“Any untimely death is a tragedy. It is not a statistic.”

He added: “A death from Aids often involves long, drawn-out suffering, not just for the person infected.

“The main task of this inquiry is to determine how and why so many being treated by the NHS suffered like this.

“The proportion of the global number may be small though significant, but each and every one who has suffered or continues to suffer is a real person, not simply a statistic, wherever they are in the UK.

“My team and I will never forget that.”

The inquiry is examining how thousands of patients were infected with HIV and hepatitis C through contaminated blood products in the 1970s and 1980s, with around 2,400 people dying.