In the 1980s, approximately 90% of people with severe hemophilia were infected with the HIV virus, and almost all patients with hemophilia, who used factor products before 1988, were infected with hepatitis C (HCV).
Blood-borne infections used to be a major complication of treatment for people living with hemophilia. At the time, factor products were manufactured using large plasma donor pools and the process lacked specific tests for infectious agents. This tragedy resulted in the loss of many lives and brought to the forefront the need to change the manufacturing and screening processes.
Factor products are considered theoretically safe. Scientists have developed techniques to manufacture clotting factor from animal cells. Clotting factor created from animal cells is called recombinant factor. Recombinant factor concentrates have never been known to transmit pathogens of any kind.
Plasma-derived products continue to play an important role in the treatment of bleeding disorders. With testing and viral inactivation processes available today, these products are considered very safe.
HCV is the leading cause of death for adults with hemophilia and is often referred to as “the silent killer.”