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International News
Indian Insurance Company to Provide HIV-Positive People With Coverage

July 13, 2007

Chennai, India-based insurance company Star Health and Allied Insurance next week is scheduled to launch the country's first insurance policy that covers people living with HIV/AIDS, the Times of India reports.

Under the policy, an HIV-positive person with a CD4+ T cell count of 500 copies per cubic millimeter of blood or more will pay an annual premium of 3,000 rupees, or about $74, the Times reports. If an HIV-positive person progresses to AIDS, the company will pay a one-time compensation of 50,000 rupees, or about $1,200, to the individual. The company has partnered with 1,800 hospitals and laboratories to administer tests to measure the CD4 counts of those seeking coverage.

According to India's National AIDS Control Organization, of the 2.5 million people living with HIV in the country, about 300,000 people have progressed to AIDS. Coverage for HIV/AIDS treatment is not offered in India, and insurers have said that a lack of representative data has limited them from covering the disease, the Times reports.

V. Jagannathan, chair of Star Health, said, "At present, we have fixed the premium at" $74 annually. He added that the company plans to "revise that and lower the price in the next renewal." He added that the coverage scheme is awaiting Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority approvals, which the company hopes to secure by this weekend. K.K. Abraham, chief of the Indian Network for People Living With HIV/AIDS, said, "For someone with [a] CD4 count above 500 following proper treatment regimen and good nutrition," progression "from HIV to AIDS will take nearly 15 to 16 years." He added that the coverage is a "great sign for India's HIV population" (Sinha, Times of India, 7/12).

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