'Every moment was precious' recalls daughter of North East infected blood victim

Emma Frame looks at photo of her father
Emma Frame's father was infected with HiV as a result of being given contaminated blood products. Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

A woman whose father was infected with HIV after receiving contaminated blood products says she has still not been able to grieve for him, more than 30 years after his death.

Emma Frame's childhood was completely overshadowed after learning her father Jeffrey had been infected, and knowing that he would die.

Ms Frame, who lives on South Tyneside, was 11 when she discovered the HIV virus had been passed to her father, when he was given contaminated blood products to treat severe haemophilia.

The condition meant his blood was unable to clot properly and he required medication to stop bleeds.

She told ITV Tyne Tees that decades on from her father's death, she is still "fighting" for him.

"I'm still fighting for my Dad to have meant something," she said. "He wasn't just a statistic, he wasn't just a guinea pig, he was a person."

Mr Frame was one of thousands of people infected with the HIV and hepatitis C viruses between 1970 and the early 1990s after receiving treatments made from imported blood plasma.

Now, a long-awaited report into the scandal has concluded it was "no accident", highlighting failings by successive governments and the NHS.

Emma Frame decided to speak publicly in order to be a 'voice' for her late father Jeffrey. Credit: Emma Frame

Ms Frame became aware of her father's HIV infection by chance.

She had been watching a children's TV news report highlighting how patients with the condition were contracting the virus.

Ms Frame recalled: "Knowing that my Dad had haemophilia I kind of put the two and two together and when my parents walked in from work I asked them outright if my Dad had HIV and they just said yes."

In the 1980s, social attitudes around HIV and AIDS were such that Ms Frame kept news of her father's diagnosis from all but her closest few friends.

"It was a horrible secretive thing that I couldn't talk about", she recalled."It was awful for me going through school: all the jokes were about AIDS and you just laugh along with it which was heartbreaking."

Ms Frame says her father's HIV diagnosis brought them closer together as it was impossible to know how long he had left to live.

"Every moment was precious," she said.

Jeffrey Frame was infected with HIV as a result of receiving infected blood products. Credit: Emma Frame

During these years, Mr Frame's daughter says he continued to "get on with life", including gong to work as often as he could.

The family rarely spoke about the HIV diagnosis.

Ms Frame says throughout these traumatic years, there was a lack of support from the NHS; something, she claims, that has continued to this day.

"Yes it was a small group of people but a group of people that were going though such a unique experience who knew they were going to die, going to lose their loved ones."

She added: "Why would you just tell them, give them a death sentence and then let them walk out the door?"

Ms Frame says she has suffered hugely as a result of her father's diagnosis and early death.

She has wiped many of her early memories; a result, she says, of the trauma she faced.

She has received counselling in an effort to come to terms with her experiences.

Jeffrey Frame spent his final weeks in hospital before his death in 1991. Credit: Emma Frame

Jeffrey Frame died in August 1991 at the age of 39.

In recent years, Ms Frame made a conscious decision to talk openly about her family's experiences in order to be, as she puts it, a voice for her father.

While she firmly believes that he should still be alive today, Ms Frame says the publication of the final report into the infected blood scandal can draw a line under some of what she has been through, by demonstrating that deaths were preventable and the disaster should never have been allowed to happen.

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.'

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