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Fit and financially stable, yet denied insurance due to HIV

2017-02-20
As recently as 2005, invasive questions about sexuality were asked on insurance application forms and being gay lead to automatic referrals for HIV testing. Discrimination within financial services is a problem that has hounded LGBT people for years. Whilst these practices are thankfully no longer commonplace, the struggle continues for people living with HIV. Although HIV specific life insurance has been available since 2008 and the situation in travel insurance appears to be improving, they are still excluded from a number of key financial products. Take Tom* for example (who's name has been changed to protect anonymity), a doctor working for the NHS. He recently decided to disclose his HIV status to his insurer when they contacted him about any changes in his medical records, thinking honesty was the best policy. Tom is healthy and sticking to his treatment; he didn’t think his HIV status would present a problem. Unfortunately, his income protection policy was subsequently cancelled, and he was told that the insurance company’s inability to insure him was likely due to people living with HIV taking more time off work. Whilst it was right for Tom to disclose his HIV status to the insurers (as failure to do so would render the policy void anyway) he felt justifiably angry that people living with HIV are completely excluded from a key financial product – particularly given that he has taken less time off work than any of his colleagues! As Tom said at the time: “As a doctor I am aware of the advances made in management of HIV. I see my friends and patients leading healthy lives. I was so angry I should be denied the security of certain financial products, not only for myself but also for my partner, my friends and my patients.” National AIDS Trust (NAT) regularly hears from individuals like Tom who are being refused financial products, such as insurance, or offered unaffordable sky-high premiums as a result of their HIV status. The feedback is that this is probably because of financial services relying on out-of-date information, generalisations or assumptions. This leaves people living with HIV facing an ongoing problem of disproportionate and unreasonable difference in treatment. To investigate this further, NAT are conducting a new survey looking at the impact of HIV status on accessing key financial services and products, including insurance, banking services, and pensions. If you’re living with HIV, we want to hear your experiences about accessing financial services through our online survey. Even if you have little or no knowledge about financial products, we’re still interested in your views. If you’re not living with HIV, you can still help by sharing this article and our survey with others on Facebook or Twitter. The survey closes at midday on Friday 10 March – so let us know your experiences as soon as possible! National AIDS Trust is the UK’s leading HIV policy charity, dedicated to transforming the UK's response to HIV by championing the rights of people living with HIV and campaigning for change. In 2005 we successfully lobbied for the inclusion of HIV as a disability in the Disability Discrimination Act, later influencing the Equality Act so that it is unlawful for employers to ask questions about HIV prior to a job offer, and led the campaign to end the ban on healthcare workers living with HIV from conducting ‘exposure prone procedures’. We are now turning our attention to financial services in the hope that we can take steps towards ending discrimination against people living with HIV in this area. Words: Rosalie Hayes, policy and campaigns Officer at National AIDS Trust Mores stories: Who wants a sneak peek at ‘I’m a Celeb’ star Joel Dommett’s Attitude shoot? Single & Fabulous? | How a decade of dating taught me to be my own Valentine