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Perspective

Positive Approaches to Insuring HIV Lives

September 17, 2015| By Annika Tiedemann | Life | English

Region: Europe

Most European countries have worked hard to combat the HIV epidemic since the early 1980s, when AIDS was first established as a disease and the HIV virus was identified as its cause. As a result, mortality from AIDS in Europe has steadily decreased since 2001.

Around 2.5 million people in Europe are living with HIV; the overall prevalence is at 0.3% of the population (compared with 5% in Sub-Saharan Africa). But recent trends are worrying. Around half of all new HIV cases are detected late, and the prognosis is poor when the virus is detected after being present for a long time. People suffering from late-stage HIV don’t benefit as much from improvements in treatment as those diagnosed early.

The actual prevalence of HIV cases in Europe is increasing, and that’s not just due to a decrease in mortality. We have seen a steep climb in incidence rates; the number of new infections detected rose by 80 % from 2004 to 2013.

The picture is consequently somewhat confusing for insurance companies. Is the AIDS crisis really over? Do lower case numbers in most European countries suggest insurers can make it simpler for people with HIV to obtain life insurance cover?

We’ve looked at HIV prevalence trends across Europe and examined how insurers in different countries view insuring those infected. It’s worth looking at because the need for insurance has become more acute, what with the growth in the number of people living with HIV and the shift in the affected population.

Certainly, many insurance companies in Europe will now consider making offers to “favourable” HIV risks. But big differences still exist in the way HIV is dealt with in Europe in an insurance context.

In Spain, which remains among the top four countries for newly reported cases in Europe, people with HIV have access to at least one “HIV only” insurance product that was launched in 2014.

Insurers in the UK, which is among the countries in Europe less affected by HIV, are not obliged to offer acceptance terms to people who have HIV, but in practice many now do. HIV testing is usually obligatory for higher sums assured.

Germany has the lowest prevalence rate in Europe, but arguably the toughest application process when it comes to insurance. It seems that people in Germany with HIV can receive a fair assessment and obtain life cover under certain circumstances, but it’s best to find out which insurers are willing.

Of course, the life business isn’t known for its fast reactions and HIV treatment has progressed rapidly in recent years. So while insurers are starting to adjust to the new realities of people living with HIV and are making cover available, there’s more to do.

To find out more about insuring HIV positive lives in Europe, read my article.

 

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