DEREK Martindale was 23 when he found out he had HIV.

“You’ve got a year to live. Don’t tell anybody,” his family doctor told him at York Hospital on Friday, September 13, 1985 – a date that sticks in his memory.

The now 60-year-old decided to go for the test because he has haemophilia and feared he was treated with contaminated blood after reading about AIDS and HIV cases in the media.

This, he says, turned out to be true.

He was one of tens of thousands of people infected with contaminated blood or blood products between the 1970s and early 1990s.

The scandal – dubbed the worst treatment disaster in the history of the NHS – has been the subject of the biggest ever public inquiry in the UK. A final report of the inquiry is due to be published on Monday (May 20).

A government spokesperson said the scandal was “an appalling tragedy that never should have happened”.

Derek was one of the first people to give evidence to the hearing in 2019 and was speaking to The Press ahead of the findings being made public.

On what he would like to see come out of the probe, he says: “I’d like to see compensation for all those infected and those affected.

“Compensation as recognition of responsibility because there has never been any apology or hands up from any of these governments or policy makers. I’d like to them to say: ‘We made a mistake, we were wrong.’”

He adds: “I’d like to know why the government continued to administer the product when they knew it was infected.”

Derek has waited almost four decades for answers to these questions and admits he wonders why it has taken so long.

“I think everyone was just pushing the boat down the river, saying: ‘let’s leave this to the next government to sort out’ or ‘it’s nothing to do with us mate’,” he says.

HIV diagnosis was 'always there' - Derek

Reflecting on his diagnosis, Derek explains: “I was 23. I had a group of friends – we’d go out, work, have a good time.

“Apart from the haemophilia, I was fit and well. It was so hard to imagine that you’ve only got a year left.”

Despite testing positive for HIV, Derek says he had no physical symptoms.

"It was just something that was always there – it wasn’t affecting me physically.”

York Press: Derek Martindale (middle) and his brothers Richard (right) and Stephen (left) with their grandparents at their sister Susan's wedding three months before Richard's deathDerek Martindale (middle) and his brothers Richard (right) and Stephen (left) with their grandparents at their sister Susan's wedding three months before Richard's death (Image: Derek Martindale)

He adds that the diagnosis impacted his relationships.

“There wasn’t really an idea then of how you got it, how you were infected. I didn’t want to infect anybody."

York Press: Derek Martindale (left) and his brothers at their sister Susan's wedding in 1990 three months before Richard (right) diedDerek Martindale (left) and his brothers at their sister Susan's wedding in 1990 three months before Richard (right) died (Image: Derek Martindale)

He also tested positive for hepatitis C because of being given blood products. He first knew he had been infected in 1997.

Derek underwent 18 months of chemotherapy which cleared his hepatitis C. He describes the treatment as “an absolute nightmare of drug cocktails” and says he still suffers side effects, including fatigue and pains.

He takes three tablets daily for his HIV which he says are “working fine”.

But his brother Richard was less fortunate.

'He didn’t complain about anything' - Derek on his brother Richard who died of AIDS

Richard, also a haemophiliac, feared he too had been treated with infected blood, Derek says. He tested positive for HIV which advanced to AIDS. He died in 1990 one month before his 24th birthday.

Derek describes his brother as “a Jack the Lad in a nice way. He was a good egg, very confident in himself in a quiet way”.

“He was popular with his group of friends and didn’t complain about anything. And then he just faded away.”

York Press: Richard Martindale in the 1980sRichard Martindale in the 1980s (Image: Derek Martindale)

Derek has lived in London since 1987 and now works as an IT contractor.

He moved south to become a programmer in the Ministry of Defence, previously working as a civil servant at the Imphal Barracks in Fulford after leaving Northfield School in Acomb.

He entered his first long-term relationship in London but says his HIV diagnosis made this difficult.

“I didn’t tell her straight away, there was that stigma around. There was a hope that we’d get to know each other a lot more, then it becomes acceptable. I was always careful with the relationship.

“When I finally did tell her she left. She couldn’t stand to be around and watch me die. So, we broke up. That was a bit of hard hit.”

Derek married his wife Margaret in 1992 and says his previous relationship experience meant he was still nervous to tell her about his illness.

“I was a bit hot and cold to start with,” he says. “We’d go out, have a few drinks, feel normal. But the next morning I’d think: ‘No. I can’t do this. I can’t hurt somebody else.’”

Margaret grew suspicious of Derek’s moods and confronted him.

“I explained and she said: ‘Is that it?’” Derek says, laughing. “That was great. It went from there.”   

He and Margaret have a son John, 31, who recently graduated with a PhD in occupational psychology. He works as a lecturer at the University of Edinburgh.  

'Justice needs to be done' - government

A government spokesperson said it will “continue to listen carefully to the community as we address this dreadful scandal”.

"We are clear that justice needs to be done and swiftly, which is why we have acted in amending the Victims and Prisoners Bill.

“This includes establishing a new body to deliver an Infected Blood Compensation Scheme, confirming the government will make the required regulations for it within three months of Royal Assent, and that it will have all the funding needed to deliver compensation once they have identified the victims and assessed claims.

“In addition, we have included a statutory duty to provide additional interim payments to the estates of deceased infected people.”