Insurance and HIV Discrimination

Discrimination against people with HIV/AIDS began when these conditions were fairly new and little information was known about them. Since then, doctors and scientists have learned more about these conditions and have even come up with ways to prevent their spread. Although there has been tremendous progress, fear and discrimination unfortunately still exist.

Due to widespread discrimination against people with HIV, the United States passed laws in the 1990’s to help prevent this discrimination. The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 made it against the law to discriminate against a person with a disability, including people with HIV/AIDS. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 allows all people, including those with HIV, to keep their medical records and HIV status confidential which helps curb discrimination.

Treatment for HIV can be costly, making it very important for people with this condition to have a health insurance plans that helps offset the costs of treatment. In the past, many people suffering from HIV have been dropped from their insurance plans or denied coverage based on their HIV status. The Affordable Care Act of 2010 prohibits insurance companies from denying coverage or dropping patients with pre-existing medical conditions, including HIV. Another way that the Affordable Care Act helps people with HIV is that it prohibits lifetime spending limits on health insurance plans. Affordability and access to treatment are especially important for people with HIV, since non-compliance can lead to treatment resistance and treatment failure. Individuals who comply with their treatment regimens lead relatively normal, productive lives which includes participation in the workforce., raising families and community activism.

Although health care reform has helped people with HIV get better access to health insurance, there are still some types of insurance that are usually unavailable to people with HIV. This includes many life insurance plans and income protection plans. Some plans may remain valid after contraction of HIV and others may become invalidated. If you have questions about this you should read over your insurance plan or contact your insurance company for more information.


 Jaime Venditti, State Coordinator, New York Health Works