The long-term outlook of people living with HIV has been improving for years and last month it was revealed that a child in South Africa had been “virtually cured” of the disease. Research published earlier this year revealed that young people receiving the latest HIV drugs now have a “near-normal” life expectancy.
Yet despite such profound changes in the health of people with the conditions, one in four say they have been refused a financial product or quoted an unaffordable insurance premium in the past five years.
The survey, carried out by the National AIDS Trust (NAT), shows that some insurance products such income protection and critical illness cover remain completely unavailable to people living with HIV. It’s a problem that experts warn extends far beyond those living with the virus.
NAT chief executive Deborah Gold says that with a normal life expectancy, people living with a diagnosis have as much of a right to long-term financial security as anyone else. She argues that it is neither necessary nor appropriate to charge exclusionary premiums or exclude them altogether. But the survey, which was carried out as part of a report into financial exclusion of the HIV community, found that many people living with HIV are simply not aware of the increased range of insurance products available to them.
On top of that, negative experiences have led three in five to avoid applying for financial products because of their HIV status. Self-exclusion is a real issue due to fears of refusal, higher costs and stigma.