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- How to get life insurance when you’re HIV-positive
- December 1st, 2011 8:08 AM
Ryan Pinney, brokerage director and life impaired risk specialist at Pinney Insurance Center Inc. in Roseville, Calif. says following the introduction of drug cocktails that counter the infection— people with HIV can expect to live longer healthier lives.
“If you contracted HIV in the late 70s or early 80s, it was a death sentence. Nowadays, with the addition of antiviral drugs, it is not uncommon for people with HIV to live 20 years without the condition developing into AIDS,” says Pinney.
In an announcement on December 1, 2011, health officials from New York City and health experts from the John Hopkins University School of Medicine and several others are recommending that HIV patients start AIDS drug treatments as soon as they are diagnosed when they still have high CD4 T-cell counts. This is in an effort to prevent HIV patients from developing full-blown AIDS. Conventional wisdom has always been to treat HIV patients with expensive drug cocktails when the immune system weakened and CD4 counts dropped.
The latest research from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) that is being lauded by health officials has shown that when treatment is given early on in the diagnosis, 96 percent of HIV patients were less likely to pass the disease on to others and it may help to prolong their life. Health officials in New York City and San Francisco are very optimistic about this new finding. If successful, and the aggressive treatment of HIV is shown to slow down the progression of the disease and increase life expectancy, this could also suggest the possibility of it becoming less difficult for people living with HIV to acquire life insurance.
Whose at risk?
From 2004 to 2007, the numbers of HIV/AIDS diagnoses increased among men who have sex with men (MSM).
In that same timeline, the estimated numbers of HIV/AIDS diagnoses increased among male and female adults and adolescents with HIV infection attributed to high-risk heterosexual contact.
Cumulatively, MSM (53 percent) and persons exposed to high–risk heterosexual contact (32 percent) accounted for 85 percent of all HIV/AIDS cases diagnosed in 34 states in 2007.
By gender, 77 percent of adults and adolescents living with AIDS were male. Of the 104,560 female adults and adolescents living with AIDS, 66 percent were exposed through heterosexual contact.
Source: United States Department of Health and Human Services
If you have a strong prognosis at the start of the illness, meaning you have managed to keep your CD4 T-cell count above 500 cells for at least three years, chances are you will have a greater life expectancy. In July 2008, a study conducted by the University of Bordeaux, France found that HIV-positive males whose CD4 count was above 500 cells for an average of three years, had death rates that were identical to those in the general population. Unfortunately, among HIV-positive women, the death rates didn’t balance out even after five years of maintaining a count above 500 cells. In fact, HIV-positive women experienced a 2.4 percent increase in death rates when compared to the general population. More studies are pending that help explain this phenomenon.
Pinney notes that for people who contract the disease at a young age, the improbability of receiving a life insurance policy is higher. However, if you have lived longer with HIV, it might be easier to get a policy.
“The reason for this is because you have a proven track record of maintaining the illness,” says Pinney.
Dr. Ann Hoven, chief medical officer for the Individual Life Division at the Hartford, says that insurers have considered the possibility of covering HIV, but there are still a number of unknowns.
“The basic dilemma is that although the life expectancy for someone with HIV can be over 20 years, those who become newly infected are younger people,” says Hoven. “The life expectancy of a person with HIV is more like 40 to 50 years of age, and most people expect to live to be in their 60s, 70s and 80s.”Pages: 1 2 3 4 5
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