Feeds

What happened to haemophiliacs before blood supplies were safe?

Dispelling myths

Remote control for virtualized desktops

Also in this week's column:

What happened to haemophiliacs before blood supplies were safe?

Asked by Alicia Rauzok of Greensboro, North Carolina

According to the National Haemophilia Foundation in New York City, nearly 90 per cent of Americans with severe hemophilia became infected with AIDS in the 1980s when the blood supply needed for transfusions was contaminated. Sadly, more than 50 per cent of those infected with HIV have died.

Yet there are several myths about haemophilia. In the developed world, haemophilia is not the death sentence many people believe it is.

"Haemophilia" is from the Greek words haima (blood) and philia (to love). The disease involves only an impairment of clotting, but not actually a complete inability of the blood to clot.

Haemophilia is a genetic-based inherited disorder involving a deficiency of a specific clotting factor in the blood. There are two forms of haemophilia. Haemophilia A (factor VIII deficiency) occurs in about one in 5,000 live male births. Haemophilia B (factor IX deficiency) occurs in about one in 10,000 live male births. The symptoms range from mild to severe.

Haemophilia occurs mostly in males while the defective gene is carried by females. However, women carriers can experience mild symptoms of the disease. Most haemophiliacs can now lead fairly normal lives, while some are seriously debilitated, and a few may die prematurely.

However, the true nature of the disorder contrasts markedly with the popular image of the disease largely derived from its historical association with Europe’s royal families, especially the Russian royal family, the Romanovs.

In haemophilia, coagulation time is relatively normal and bleeding is characteristically a delayed or prolonged oozing or trickling occurring after minor trauma or surgery such as tooth extraction. Even in severe haemophilia, coagulation time ranges from 30 minutes to several hours. Rarely does a haemophiliac have massive bleeding, and never does one bleed to death from a small cut as it is commonly believed.

Joint hemorrhages, gastrointestinal bleeding, and bruising are actually more serious concerns for the haemophiliac than is bleeding to death.

Modern treatment methods have significantly lowered risks through the use of new clotting serums given during periodic blood transfusions. However, it is estimated that 70 per cent of the haemophiliacs around the world do not have access to treatment that would make this disease far less fatal.

Stephen Juan, Ph.D. is an anthropologist at the University of Sydney. Email your Odd Body questions to s.juan@edfac.usyd.edu.au

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

More from The Register

next story
Rosetta probot drilling DENIED: Philae has its 'LEG in the AIR'
NOT best position for scientific fulfillment
'Yes, yes... YES!' Philae lands on COMET 67P
Plucky probot aces landing on high-speed space rock - emotional scenes in Darmstadt
THERE it is! Philae comet lander FOUND in EXISTING Rosetta PICS
Crumb? Pixel? ALIEN? Better, it's a comet-catcher!
SEX BEAST SEALS may be egging each other on to ATTACK PENGUINS
Boffin: 'I think the behaviour is increasing in frequency'
HUMAN DNA 'will be FOUND ON MOON' – rocking boffin Brian Cox
Crowdfund plan to stimulate Blighty's space programme
Post-pub nosh neckfiller: The MIGHTY Scotch egg
Off to the boozer? This delicacy might help mitigate the effects
I'M SO SORRY, sobs Rosetta Brit boffin in 'sexist' sexy shirt storm
'He is just being himself' says proud mum of larger-than-life physicist
NASA launches new climate model at SC14
75 days of supercomputing later ...
prev story

Whitepapers

Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Reducing the cost and complexity of web vulnerability management
How using vulnerability assessments to identify exploitable weaknesses and take corrective action can reduce the risk of hackers finding your site and attacking it.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.