Hong Kong haemophiliacs with HIV want to know why supplies of a safer blood product were held up in the 1980s Hong Kong haemophiliacs infected with HIV have demanded an explanation from a drug company for a delay to supplies of a safer blood product in Hong Kong two decades ago. While thousands of haemophiliacs in the United States have filed successful lawsuits against manufacturers of contaminated blood products, Hong Kong patients were kept in the dark about why and how they were infected with HIV. When some were contacted by the South China Morning Post and told about the delay by the company Cutter in supplying heat-treated Factor VIII concentrate to Asia in the mid-1980s, they were shocked and angry. The patients said Hong Kong doctors at the time did not tell them much about the safety problems of factor concentrates, a medicine for bleeding disorders. A mother of two haemophiliacs, who both contracted HIV through blood products, said she was 'totally ignorant'' about the drug supplies situation at that time. The mother questioned why her children were not given the safer products - the heat-treated factor concentrate - even months after some overseas patients had already been given access to the products. The brothers are among the 61 Hong Kong haemophiliacs who became infected with HIV through the injection of contaminated concentrate before the heat-treated products became available in the city in July 1985. The brothers, who are now in their 20s and 30s, have been using the concentrates since they were toddlers. The mother, who gave her name only as Mrs Chan, said: 'Why did the drug company have the new products but did not give them to Hong Kong patients? I wonder how many people got infected during that period.' Mrs Chan said it was 'very unfair'' for the drug company not to supply Hong Kong patients with the heat-treated concentrate in line with the product's launch in the US. 'I would have preferred my son bleeding to death to having HIV. Having HIV is terrible. My boys are living underground everyday. If they do not have Aids, they can have their own children, their own family. Now they have nothing.'' Mrs Chan's two sons each received $600,000 from a $350 million fund set up by former governor Chris Patten to help the 61 infected haemophiliacs, but the money is scant recompense for their suffering. Her elder son suffered brain damage during a fall when he was a child. He is blind and confined to a wheelchair. Mrs Chan said she did not tell her elder son about his HIV infection. 'It makes no difference to him if he knows it or not.' Another victim, a 33-year-old man, said patients should be given a choice of using the non heat-treated products or not. The man, who could only be identified as Charles, was diagnosed with haemophilia at the age of nine. Since then, he has been receiving Factor VIII concentrate. His younger brother shared his fate in becoming infected with HIV through blood products. Charles, who tested HIV positive at the age of 16, said he needed at least nine shots of the concentrate, which cost $4,500 on the private market, a sum his family could not afford, for each course of treatment. 'I don't have a choice. If I do not use the drug, I will die. I do not blame doctors but I do think the drug company has a responsibility to make sure the products are safe.'' Li Wei-chun told the New York Times earlier that her son, who died in 1996 at the age of 23, was one of the haemophiliacs in Hong Kong who contracted Aids after using the product. 'They did not care about the lives in Asia,' Ms Li said. 'It was racial discrimination.'