Daughter of infected blood victim from Blyth recalls threats and graffiti sparked by father's HIV

William Willis and his brother Michael who both died after being given infected blood product Factor VIIII. Credit: Family

A woman whose father contracted HIV after receiving an infected blood product says her family was subjected to threats as a result of his illness - and on one occasion had the word "AIDS" graffitied on their garage.

Sharon Osborne's dad William Willis was given a treatment called Factor VIIII (FVIII) concentrate for his haemophilia - a condition which means a person's blood does not clot in the same way it normally would.

A victim of the infected blood scandal, Mr Willis, from Blyth, contracted hepatitis C and HIV and later developed liver cirrhosis. He died from liver failure on 10 February 1992, aged 46.

Michael Willis, William's brother, was also treated with Factor VIIII for haemophilia and died after contracting HIV.

Ms Osborne was left orphaned at 19, along with her sister, having lost their mother to a stroke years earlier. She said her father's illness and death affected the lives of her entire family.

William Willis with his daughter Sharon. Credit: Family

"My dad became a single parent who was dealing with a terminal illness," she explained.

"Life wasn't easy for me or my sister. I think it it certainly devastated all our lives. To watch the pain that he went through was horrendous.

"It's hard when you try and think of happy times. I can only speak for myself, but the bad outweighed the good.

"There was so much pain and suffering and watching him die...

"He fought till the last moment to be there for me, my sister, because obviously with losing my mum to the stroke when she was just 34 - he was our everything."

Ms Osborne said that attitudes towards disease like HIV and AIDS during the 80s and 90s impacted the way her family dealt with her dad's illnesses, which she said "felt like a dirty secret".

"Until now, people who know us didn't know about my dad," she continued. "It's not something we talked about.

"It was a secret, you know, and because he didn't want it out there. He kept a lot hidden from me and my sister to protect us."

William Willis with his two daughters. Credit: Family

Ms Osborne's words come as an inquiry into the Infected Blood Inquiry was published on Monday (20 May) after decades of “tireless” work by campaigners.

The report found the scandal, which claimed thousands of lives, was "no accident".

Now, Ms Osborne says she wants the government to be held accountable.

She said: "None of this should have ever happened.

"We were just children, we didn't know everything that was going on, but we had our lives taken away as well.

"This is the biggest disaster ever. The government lied to everybody.

"I want the government to be held accountable, because they knew, in the 80s and 90s, that they should have stopped using the blood products and they didn't, they carried on.

"All those people lost their lives, and they didn't need to, they could be alive today."

William Willis was infected with hepatitis C and HIV. Credit: Family

Responding to the publication, the Minister for the Cabinet Office, John Glen, said: "The report lays bare the devastating consequences of the use of infected blood and blood products, and I hope it answers the questions that the infected and affected have been asking for so long.

"I have listened to the strongly held views of those members of the infected blood community that I have spoken with; this day is about the truth, the community, and a time for reflection about those they have lost, and the suffering which they have endured over decades.

"It is right that the Government should formally recognise this significant report on the day of publication, and so the Prime Minister will give a short statement to Parliament later today.

"There will be a further statement tomorrow in the Commons regarding compensation."

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