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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 12 Hansard (21 November) . . Page.. 4225 ..

Mr Speaker, this Bill amends the Blood Donation (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) Act 1985. The Blood Donation Act provides a defence to any action brought against the Australian Red Cross Society, a hospital or a medical practitioner by a person claiming to have contracted AIDS through a blood transfusion where the blood was supplied by, or the blood product derived from blood supplied by the Australian Red Cross Society.

This legislative defence is provided subject to certain specific requirements having been complied with. These requirements are that a statutory declaration must have been obtained from the donor prior to the donation of blood and that the Society, hospital or medical practitioner must not supply blood or blood products unless a sample of the blood shows negative results when subjected to approved tests. Currently the legislation provides protection from litigation only in respect of the AIDS Virus. Additionally it requires the Minister for Health and Community Care to approve the equipment and methods used for the testing of blood samples.

Mr Speaker since 1985 there have been additional diseases identified that are capable of being transmitted by blood and or blood products. Approved tests and equipment have been introduced to identify these diseases in blood donated to the Australian Red Cross Society. The Australian Red Cross Society currently tests samples of all blood donated for the transmittable diseases known as the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, Human T Cell Lymphoma virus 1 and 2 and syphilis. To provide enhanced statutory protection to the Australian Red Cross Society, ACT hospitals, medical practitioners and the ACT Government this Bill extends the coverage of the current Act to include the transmittable diseases I have mentioned. In addition this Bill provides the capacity to prescribe regulations to respond to emerging diseases that are identified and tests developed for.

Changes in the technology and methods of testing blood and blood products are occurring quite rapidly. There is a need to enhance the statutory processes to approve these changes so as to ensure that the protections afforded by this Bill remain current. The Bill enables the Medical Officer of Health to approve by Instrument changes to blood testing equipment and methodology.

Mr Speaker I commend this Bill to the Assembly.

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