Prudential Insurance Company will make history this week by allowing HIV-positive people to register for the insurance company’s traditional life insurance policies — a first in an industry that traditionally leaves people struggling with chronic diseases with few options for affordable plans to protect their family members once they die.
Announced on Monday, the eve of World AIDS Day, this news comes after decades of people living with the virus being denied anything but minimal coverage from insurance providers.
Although not all details have been formally unveiled, the company has said the new plan will be available to anyone who is HIV-positive but otherwise healthy.
According to Kaiser Health News, the company made the decision after analyzing data that showed HIV-positive people ended up living much longer than expected.
“With advances in the successful treatment of people with HIV, we are now able to offer this population the opportunity to apply for life insurance – a milestone we see as a significant step in the right direction,” said Mike McFarland, underwriting vice president for Prudential, in statement.
More options for affordable life insurance — which rests on the assumption that HIV-positive people have many years of life ahead of them — could be another step toward dismantling the long-perpetrated belief that being diagnosed with HIV is a death sentence.
More than 1.2 million Americans are living with HIV, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While a cure for the virus does not exist, life expectancy for people in the U.S. living with HIV has never been better. A recent study found that people diagnosed with HIV early in their lives usually live until their early 70’s.