Many people living with HIV continue to face unfair discrimination in various aspects of their lives. SECTION27 often receives reports from people who are denied access to insurance products solely on the basis that they are HIV positive, or are offered cover at what appear to be highly inflated prices.
The practice of denying cover has gone on for more than two decades, with little change. And yet the implications of HIV infection for health status and life expectancy have changed dramatically over the same period. Today, more than 1.5 million people with HIV are accessing antiretroviral (ARV) treatment in South Africa.
For the majority of these people, access to ARV treatment has turned HIV infection into a chronic manageable condition. Today, people with HIV who properly manage their health can be expected to live long, healthy lives. These facts must inform the approach of the insurance industry when it considers the implications of HIV infection for life expectancy.
SECTION27 recently met with representatives of the Association for Savings and Investment South Africa (ASISA), the successor to the Life Offices’ Association (LOA) which represents the majority of South Africa’s asset managers, collective investment scheme management companies, linked investment service providers, multi-managers and life insurance companies.
The purpose of the meeting was to raise concerns we have regarding the current approaches and practices of the insurance industry in relation to HIV. The meeting was also an opportunity to discussion SECTION27’s views on the shortcomings of ASISA’s proposed introduction of telephonic post-HIV test counselling.
Even though there are now some insurance products available to people with HIV, real concerns remain. For instance, a substantial number of companies still refuse cover to anyone with HIV. The only life cover options available to those without group cover – products offered by Alllife and Altrisk – are expensive. These concerns are detailed in our letter addressed to ASISA, which we are now publishing in the public interest.
The Constitution guarantees the right to equality as well as the right to have access to social security. In pursuit of this objective, SECTION27 will continue to monitor and engage the insurance industry and government to ensure that the rights of people living with HIV are respected, protected, promoted and fulfilled.
For further information contact: S’khumbuzo Maphumulo on 011 356 4118 or Maphumulo@section27.org.za.