A Blackburn woman, who contracted HIV and Hepatitis C after being given infected blood, said she gave up her career and thought she was going to die after being diagnosed.

Catherine Slater, 58, has questioned if the proposed compensation and apology from the Prime Minister, is enough to combat decades of judgement and health issues.

This comes in the wake of the Infected Blood Inquiry report, which was published on May 20.

Catherine, who is currently living in Clitheroe, was diagnosed with HIV in 1985, aged 20.

This was three years after receiving blood products to treat her Von Willebrand’s Disease - a type of haemophilia.

She later found that she had also been infected with Hepatitis C.

At the time she said a HIV diagnosis was a “death sentence” and she was given 18 months to live.

She said: “When I was first diagnosed with HIV I was given 18 months to live and I was halfway through my nursing training.

“Medication has come a long way and you can live with HIV now but in those days there was no treatment and it was a death sentence. I can’t explain how scary it was.

“You didn’t know who to trust or what the truth was or whether to take the medication or not. You were constantly living in a state of anxiety and fear.”

Catherine says she has suffered side effects from the HIV medication, including  Lipodystrophy, a condition that causes a disproportionate distribution of fat in the body

“It’s left me with a hump on my back and very little fat on my legs,” she said.

Catherine says she has had to endure decades of judgement and the abandonment of her nursing career due to her diagnosis. It also influenced her decision not to have children, over fears she would die or pass it on to her child.

She said: “When I moved to Clitheroe I didn’t know who to trust and who to tell as I was starting afresh with the stigma and fear of being persecuted for something that isn’t my fault.

“I lost a good friend because she couldn’t bear the thought of me dying.”

More than 30,000 people were infected with deadly viruses between the 1970s and early 1990s as they received blood transfusions or blood products while receiving NHS care. Around 3,000 people have since died.

The 2,527-page report from the inquiry found the infected blood scandal “could largely have been avoided” and there was a “pervasive” cover-up to hide the truth.

Catherine said she finds it “disgusting” that the scandal, and resulting cover-up, was allowed to happen.

She said: “It felt like [officials] cared more about protecting the state and not protecting us.

“I am not angry anymore. It’s been more than 40 years since I was infected but a lot of other haemophiliacs are still extremely angry and feel like they can’t talk about it.

“I need to talk about it because people need to be educated about it.”

Catherine was in London for the publishing of the infected blood report.

She said: “It was surreal in London.

“Meeting so many different people and hearing their stories [was amazing]. Each person has endured their own private tragedy.”

Rishi Sunak issued a “wholehearted and unequivocal” apology to the victims of the scandal.

The Prime Minister said it was “a day of shame for the British state” after the Infected Blood Inquiry identified a “catalogue of systemic, collective and individual failures” that amounted to a “calamity”.

People living with an HIV infection as a result of the scandal could receive between £2.2million and £2.6million, according to government figures.

The Prime Minister also told MPs that he expects all recommendations made by inquiry chairman Sir Brian Langstaff to be acted upon by the end of the year.

When asked if this would provide Catherine with closure she said: “Rishi looked genuinely remorseful and I felt like what he was saying, about his government and previous governments, was genuinely remorseful.

“But does it compensate for the fact I lost my career in nursing or that I chose not to have children, because I might have died or passed this on to my child?

"Does it compensate for all my health problems and the fear I had of dying? Maybe it does in some people’s minds.

“To me compensation is about [officials] feeling like they are doing something positive to try and right the wrong.

“Words are simple but now they need to act. If that makes them feel better and corrects the imbalance, judgement, and silence we have had to endure, then maybe it is enough.

“I am fortunate that I have been able to grow old and have some sense of normality, as so many people [that were given infected blood ] are not here today.”