THE widow of a man who died after after receiving contaminated blood says her husband was treated like 'a guinea pig' afterwards during clandestine studies in Oxford.

Government papers confirm long-held suspicions by campaigners that studies were carried out on infected haemophiliacs and their partners.

Nearly 30 years ago, ministers had a meeting to discuss observing haemophiliacs who had been infected with hepatitis C and HIV from tainted blood products in the 1970s and 1980s.

Sue Threakall’s husband Bob, an executive officer for the Department of Health and Social Security, died in 1991 aged 47 after being told by doctors in 1985 that he had contracted HIV.

And although the couple lived in Birmingham, they were desperate to have another child so they went to seek advice from Dr Charles Rizza, former director of the Oxford Haemophilia Centre at the Churchill Hospital.

Mrs Threakall, who is now 64 and secretary of the campaign group Tainted Blood, said that on reflection it is clear both she and Bob were being used in a secretive study.

She said: “I am sure they were using us as test subjects from the very beginning, I have thought that for a long time that my husband was used as part of a greater experiment.

“At no point were we ever asked if we wanted to be a part of a study.

“They took advantage of people’s trust in doctors and the medical profession, they were human guinea pigs.

“For people like Bob as a haemophiliac going to hospital, having blood tests and things like that was of course second nature, so there was no thought to question why they would need a sample here or there.”

A public inquiry is due to be carried out by the cabinet office after pressure from campaigners, but no date has yet been set.

And now a report discovered by Jason Evans, the founder of campaign group Factor 8, from the ‘Working Group on the Monitoring and Surveillance of HIV Infection and AIDS’ has been made publicly available 29 years after it was written.

The report from May 13, 1988 says: “Patients with haemophilia who are infected with HIV can provide important information about the spread and effects of HIV infection.

“Study of those who had the misfortune to become infected can provide invaluable information on, for example, the incubation period of the disease and the risks of spread of infection to their sexual partners, although caution must be observed in extrapolating the results of studies to other groups and to the population at large.

“This reporting system is managed by the Haemophilia Centre Directors through their AIDS Committee and is co-ordinated from the Haemophilia Centre in Oxford.”

Patients at the Oxford Haemophilia Centre at the Churchill Hospital in Headington were among 7,500 people infected with tainted products, which to date are believed to have led to the deaths of 2,500 British haemophiliacs.

Mrs Threaksall said that she and her husband were advised that trying for a baby would be done at their own risk, and the couple did not subsequently have any more children. She also did not contract HIV.

Former newsagent of Southmoor, near Abingdon, Neil Weller was one such patient to be infected with hepatitis C.

The 46-year-old added: "I cannot speak from personal experience about this as I was only young when this all happened, so I would not have been involved in studies like this.

"It is really unfortunate this has come from government offices, I cannot imagine for one minute that the doctors would have been trying to do something like this.

"It puts shame on the government, it is just disgraceful."

The reports go on to say that data on HIV positive haemophiliac patients, including those with AIDS, was collected at Oxford and analysed.

It added: “As HIV is spread primarily through sexual intercourse, knowledge about sexual behaviour is highly relevant to a description of the epidemiology of AIDS.”

A spokesman for the Department of Health said it would be 'inappropriate' for it to comment at this time.

The United Kingdom Haemophilia Centres Doctor’s Organisation (UKHCDO) executive committee said it was not able to comment and anticipated these issues to be thoroughly investigated during the upcoming public inquiry, which it says it intends to 'fully support it'.