Study suggests life insurance should cover people treated for HIV

Authors of a Swiss study in this week's issue of THE LANCET highlight how people effectively treated for HIV-1 infection with highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) have similar or lower mortality rates than patients successfully treated for cancer--calling into question the decision of insurance companies in many developed countries to not offer life insurance for people with HIV/AIDS.

People with HIV-1 infection can not obtain life insurance because of their perceived high risk of mortality. The introduction of HAART over the past few years has prolonged the lives of many people with HIV-1 infection.

Bernard Hirschel from Geneva University Hospital, Switzerland, and colleagues measured mortality rates in around 4000 people enrolled in the Swiss HIV Cohort Study (SHCS) (an ongoing study of HIV-positive patients from seven large hospitals in Switzerland) from 1997 to 2001 and compared death rates with the overall Swiss population. Patients who were successfully treated with HAART and who were not also infected with hepatitis C virus had excess death rates below five per 1000 per year.

Bernard Hirschel comments: "Successfully treated HIV-positive and hepatitis C negative patients have a short term mortality as low as, or lower than that of, patients with cancer who have been successfully treated (excess death rate in the range of five to 20 per 1000 patient-years)-a group that is able to obtain life insurance. This study provides preliminary actuarial evidence that life coverage could be considered under specific conditions."


Contact: Joe Santangelo

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