I don’t really like medical spaces. For me, they’re not just spaces that are essential to my health, but also spaces of exclusion and trauma.
How often have I heard about people from my communities being refused care? A chronic migraine blamed on hormones. An open wound left unbandaged because they “don’t have the expertise necessary to deal with that kind of people”. And what about inappropriate questions, wrong names on files, or deadnames read out loud in the waiting room, in front of everyone?
Historically, people living with HIV in Canada have been excluded from access to life insurance. In recent years, however, both Manulife and Sun Life have started accepting applications from people living with HIV, now that HIV is widely recognized as a manageable chronic illness. Nevertheless, this significant change in policy is not well-known within the HIV sector. How can we change that and how can we facilitate access to life insurance for people living with HIV?
With these two questions in mind, we at Realize and the Canadian Positive People Network (CPPN) surveyed our members and the insurance sector to gain clarity from both sides as to what the underlying issues might be. We found out that life insurance is something that people living with HIV think about today, but few folks know that it’s an option. And, for the few people living with HIV who are aware that Manulife and Sun Life are offering life insurance options, many people wondered what is offered and were curious about where to go for more information or to apply. Some wanted to know what the “catch” might be.
The PositiveLite.com team (from left to right): Rob Olver, Wayne Bristow, John McCullagh and Bob Leahy
It’s not surprising that PositiveLite.com —what we called Canada’s online HIV magazine but it was, I’d argue, so much more —came to an end on March 31. It had been going for nine years.
It was a unique model run by people living with HV for people living with HIV. Most people thought we had big offices; in fact, we operated out of our own homes. We were independent in all senses of the word.
Saskatchewan has led the country in the rate of new HIV infections and the proportion of people living with HIV since 2009. The HIV epidemic in this province is unique from other jurisdictions in Canada in that more than three-quarters of our new infections occur in people who use injection drugs (the Canadian average is less than 14%).