Hemophilia

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

  • Medical Editor: Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD
    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.

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Infections

Blood-borne infections, such as the HIV virus andhepatitis B and C, were a major complication of treatment for hemophilia during the 1980s. These infections were transmitted through the factor concentrates and other blood products that were used to treat hemophilia. The use of large blood donor pools to prepare factor concentrates and the lack of specific tests for infectious agents both contributed to the contamination of blood products used to treat hemophilia. By 1985, about 90% of people with severe hemophilia were infected with the HIV virus, and about half of all people with hemophilia were HIV-positive. Today, improved screening and manufacturing practices including virus removing techniques as well as the development of recombinant factors have essentially eliminated this tragic complication of treatment.

Can hemophilia be prevented?

Hemophilia is a genetic (inherited) disease and cannot be prevented. Genetic counseling, identification of carriers through molecular genetic testing, and prenatal diagnosis are available to help individuals understand their risk of having a child with hemophilia.

What is the outlook (prognosis) for hemophilia?

Before factor concentrates were developed, those with hemophilia had a significantly decreased life expectancy. Life expectancy before the 1960s for those with severe hemophilia was limited to 11 years. Currently, the mortality (death) rate for males with hemophilia is twice that of healthy males. As mentioned before, the increase in HIV and hepatitis infections associated with therapy during the 1980s led to a corresponding increase in death rates.

Currently, prompt and adequate treatment can greatly reduce the risks of life-threatening bleeding episodes and the severity of long-term damage to joints, but joint deterioration remains a chronic complication of hemophilia.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/21/2015
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