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Canada To Pay Hepatitis C Victims

March 27, 1998

TORONTO (AP) _ Federal and provincial health ministers said Friday they will offer a $775 million compensation package to people infected with hepatitis C through tainted blood.

The money is available only to those who contracted hepatitis C through blood or blood products between Jan. 1, 1986, and July 1, 1990. Details will be determined through negotiations submitted to the courts for approval.

The deal does not cover thousands of people _ estimates range from 14,000 to 40,000 _ infected through tainted blood before 1986 or after 1990.

A test to detect hepatitis C in donated blood was introduced in the United States in 1986, but Canada delayed screening until 1990. The delay led to thousands of infections.

Victims’ groups expressed dissatisfaction with the plan.

``This is definitely not the end of anything,″ said Joanne Manser, of the Hepatitis C Society of Canada. ``We don’t feel that process is a compassionate process.″

Toronto lawyer David Harvey has said he will proceed with a national class action suit on behalf of people infected before 1986.

As many as 90 percent of people infected with the hepatitis C virus may get chronic liver disease, and of those 10 percent will develop cirrhosis or liver cancer after 10 years.

The disease has an incubation period of up to 30 years and many victims can manage for years with few or mild symptoms, while others die.

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