The most serious complications of hemophilia in the 1980s were blood-borne infections. Many hemophiliacs around the world were infected with HIV (Human Immuno-deficiency Virus), hepatitis B and hepatitis C. They received these infections from the plasma, cryoprecipitate and, especially, the factor concentrates which were supposed to make their lives normal. In Canada :
- approximately 35% of hemophiliacs were infected with HIV
- approximately 90% of hemophiliacs with severe hemophilia A and 40% of hemophiliacs with severe hemophilia B were infected with HIV
- almost all hemophiliacs who used blood products regularly before 1988 were infected with hepatitis C.
This tragedy forced very rapid changes in the way blood products were manufactured. (See The treatment of hemophilia.)
As a result, there have been no HIV, hepatitis B or hepatitis C infections through factor concentrates in Canada since 1988. Today, plasma-derived clotting factor concentrates are considered to be very safe therapies.
Recombinant clotting factor concentrates have never been known to transmit pathogens of any kind.