Sunday, February 8, 2009

Ryan White and Factor VIII

After Professor Latto talked about the different transmission probabilities of AIDS in class, I remembered the story of Ryan White. He was a young man who was diagnosed with AIDS in 1984, and he helped bring the disease into the public eye as something that could happen to anyone.
White contracted AIDS through a contaminated transfusion of Factor VIII, a blood-clotting agent, which he needed to manage his hemophilia. Since Factor VIII is derived from the blood plasma of hundreds of donated units of blood, the risk of contaminated blood being transfused is much more likely. More about this can be read in TCP pages 311-314.
Although I couldn’t find exact figures for the likelihood of transmission from Factor VIII, the WHO does say that approximately 5-10% of all HIV infections come from contaminated blood and blood products.

1 comment:

John Latto said...

Smart guy.
'White was seen by some as an innocent victim" of the AIDS epidemic. White and his family strongly rejected the language of "innocent victim" because the phrase was often used to imply that homosexuals with AIDS were "guilty". White's mother told The New York Times, "Ryan always said, 'I'm just like everyone else with AIDS, no matter how I got it.'

WITHIN THE US the CDC estimates a very low risk of infection from contaminated blood products (looks like its under 0.5% of cases, or under 100 per year)
(although this risk was obviously much higher earlier in the epidemic).

The WHO estimate of 5-10% is a worldwide figure. Given that blood testing costs costs $40 to $50 per unit, the problem for poor countries is apparent.