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Gay men are reportedly being denied health insurance because they're on PrEP

"It’s like refusing to insure someone because they use seatbelts".

2018-02-15

Gay men in the United States are reportedly being denied health insurance because they are on PrEP.

An investigation by the New York Times found that some gay men were being penalised by insurance providers because they were taking the groundbreaking medication, which protects individuals from contracting HIV.

One man, Dr. Philip J. Cheng, said that after applying for lifetime disability insurance he was only been offered a five-year plan because he was taking PrEP medication.

"And I never engaged in sexually irresponsible behavior," Dr. Cheng told the New York Times. "I’ve always been in longer-term monogamous relationships."

He added: "I was really shocked. PrEP is the responsible thing to do.

"It’s the closest thing we have to an H.I.V. vaccine."

After the incident, Dr. Cheng stopped taking PrEP and applied to a different insurer, where he was offered a lifetime disability policy.

When approached for explanation, companies told the New York Times that applicants were turned down or penalised because the company assumed a link between taking PrEP and high-risk sexual behaviour - an indication of the stigma that continues to surround the drug.

Dr. Robert M. Grant, and AIDS researcher at the University of California, San Francisco, said that such a policy was like "refusing to insure someone because they use seatbelts."

On Wednesday, New York state financial regulators said they would invesitgate the reports, in a move that could have implications for insurers across the country.

"This is tantamount to penalizing applicants based on sexual orientation", said Maria T. Vullo, the state’s superintendent of financial services.

"Insurers cannot choose to deny coverage based on discriminatory reasons."

Short for pre-exposure prophyliaxis, PrEP involves taking a daily dose of anti-retroviral HIV medication, which has been proven almosy 100% effect in preventing the transmission of the virus.

According to a study released last year, giving gay men in the UK access to PrEP medication could save the NHS up to £1bn over the next 80 years.

Meanwhile, Attitude Editor-in-Chief Matt Cain recently began taking the drug to help dispel some of the myths surrounding the drug. Click here to read his story.