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HIV, AIDS and Insurance

The fact that times change should "give hope to the poor and pause to the rich", according to one old saying.

Tuesday, December 5th 2017, 11:13AM

Time has brought new science to bear on the problem of HIV infection and treatment. In some respects, the world has come a long way. Given that it was recently world AIDS awareness day and, also, that New Zealand is in the midst of a new awareness campaign, “Ending HIV”, it seems like the right time to review what it all means for insurance.

There is some good news. Views of HIV and AIDS were often shaped – as mine were – by the public health advertising campaigns of the 1980s, and the subsequent deaths of so many celebrities of the entertainment industry from AIDS. Back then, posters billed a diagnosis as "starting the countdown to death", and even featured images of the grim reaper. The focus was entirely on prevention and it took years of advocacy to mobilise resources to research and treatment.

It is worth knowing that today, according to the National AIDS Trust (a UK body), "the outlook for someone living with HIV in the UK today is relatively positive. HIV treatment outcomes in the UK are excellent: 96% of people diagnosed with HIV are on treatment and 94% of those on treatment are virally suppressed. Many people living with HIV report that their condition has little impact on their working life, and those diagnosed early and adherent to treatment have a normal life expectancy."

So much so, in fact, that the Association of British Insurers has recommended that HIV no longer be considered as part of a critical illness insurance policy. These days, when we hear about companies such as AllLife, in South Africa, offering cover to people with HIV and Diabetes, it underlines that these are serious conditions – but provided a person is in good compliance with their treatment regime, they can be managed.

On the other hand, just because treatment is possible, shouldn’t mean that there isn’t an emphasis on prevention. According to the website EndingHIV: “HIV is on the rise in New Zealand, with 2016 seeing the highest number of new diagnoses on record." That’s where recent campaigns come in. The EndingHIV website has good information on how people can stay safe – especially if they are in an at-risk group.


Tags: health insurance Russell Hutchinson

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