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"Bad Blood: A Cautionary Tale"

By Jeff Cornett  on May 31, 2011


Georgia public television will be airing the documentary, "Bad Blood: A Cautionary Tale," this Thursday, June 2.  Finding it on your TV dial might not be easy though.  It is being broadcast by GPTV but only on their Knowledge subchannel.  If you go to GPTV Channel 8 on Thursday you'll find Barney and other children's programming.  On my cable TV (Comcast), the GPTV Knowledge channel is 246.  If you do get the GPTV Knowledge channel, the documentary is scheduled for 10 a.m., 4 p.m., 6 p.m., and 9 p.m.

The public broadcasting version of "Bad Blood" is a version that has been edited down to one hour in length.  I've only seen the full length documentary, so I don't know what has been left out.  When I saw the 82 minute version, I thought, "there is so much more that could have been told."  You can read my Horizons in Hemophilia newsletter article for more details about the documentary. In this blog post I want to talk about my experience of seeing the film.

Some background: I started working at Hemophilia of Georgia in 1990 but that was not my first contact with the hemophilia community.  For the five previous years, I had worked with the Georgia Department of Human Resources AIDS Project.  As a nurse, I had personally taken care of three of the first five "official cases" of people in Georgia with hemophilia and AIDS: two in the hospital and one as a volunteer in his home.  I have my horror stories and I was worried that "Bad Blood" would focus on the suffering so many people experienced in the 1980s.  It doesn't. The filmmakers tell just enough to personalize the story.  Two people with whom I watched "Bad Blood" felt differently though.  They had both lost family members with hemophilia to AIDS.  They found the documentary painful to watch.

I also expected "Bad Blood" to be more damning of the pharmaceutical companies, the Food & Drug Administration, and the National Hemophilia Foundation.  The documentary does show how all three failed the hemophilia community and share blame.  I think it could have been more hard-hitting.

I was surprised that I learned new information. After working on the Ricky Ray Hemophilia Relief Fund Act and the settlement with the pharmaceutical companies, I thought I had heard all there was to know.

So do I recommend watching "Bad Blood"? Yes, I do, especially by people in the bleeding disorders community.  I guarantee you'll learn something.  It will help you understand our community better.  You'll appreciate the importance we put on advocacy and oversight.  You'll see why we give families all the facts we have so they can make informed treatment decisions.

These opinions are my own and don't necessarily reflect those of Hemophilia of Georgia or its other staff members. We invite you to share your thoughts on the "Bad Blood" documentary.

Jeff Cornett RN MSN
Director of Training, Research, & Advocacy



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