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International News

South Africa: AIDS Causes Life Insurers to Take Stock

January 4, 2007

In South Africa, where around 5.5 million people among the population of 47 million have HIV/AIDS, life insurers are re-examining the products and services they offer HIV-positive clients.

"Over the past decade, vast improvements have taken place in the treatment of HIV/AIDS," said the Life Offices' Association of South Africa, a coalition of long-term insurance providers. "Therefore, some life insurers are in the process of developing new generation products that will offer competitive premiums for HIV-positive people on an ART [antiretroviral treatment] program."

The few established South African insurers that have offered life insurance to HIV-positive people charged up to nine times as much compared with standard policies, though pay-out was not contingent on whether the client was taking antiretrovirals. Now, companies like AllLife and AltRisk are offering people with HIV policies at rates only around four times higher. However, the policies require adherence to an appropriate treatment plan.

"Our clients are investing in their future -- buying a house, starting a business, furthering their studies," said Ross Beerman, AllLife's co-founder and manager director. "People are accessing financial services products they were not able to before. They are investing in themselves."

Launched one year ago, AllLife targets 5 percent of a potential client pool of around 2 million HIV-positive South Africans earning a monthly minimum of 2,500 rand ($358 US). Clients must commit to treatment once their CD4 count dips below 200, with the company monitoring and encouraging adherence. Those who do not comply lose their coverage.

"Unlike traditional insurance companies, your history is almost irrelevant to us," said Beerman. "It is how you are going to behave in the future that is important. We tell you exactly what you must do to live a long life."

Back to other news for January 4, 2007

Adapted from:
Agence France Presse
12.22.2006, Mariette le Roux

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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
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