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.
This past year the Canadian Aboriginal AIDS Network (CAAN) held its annual gathering, on the theme of “transforming wholistic approaches to Indigenous health.”
It’s a gathering of First Nations, Métis and Inuit people, combining a business meeting, a gathering of Aboriginal people with HIV/AIDS, and the ‘Wise Practices’ research conference.
But more importantly, it is a gathering of colleagues who have become friends, clients who have become peers, people with HIV who have become community leaders, and an extended family. Also present are elders welcoming delegates to their traditional lands, and children – the younger ones mostly playing with each other and the older children learning and participating with their moms.
A volunteer from the Victorian AIDS Council at a community march.
By Brent Allan, Laurel Sprague, Suzy Malhotra and Rebecca Matheson
The partnerships forged between people living with HIV and researchers have been an essential foundation upon which the response to the HIV epidemic has grown. And the time has come to reaffirm and recommit to principles of inclusion and respect in the conduct of presenting research findings that impacts on our lives.
For people living with HIV and their allies, 2017 was a ground-breaking year. It culminated with both the federal and Ontario governments publicly recognizing the need to limit the over-criminalization of HIV in Canada. On World AIDS Day 2017, both acknowledged that criminal prosecution for alleged HIV non-disclosure is not warranted when a person living with HIV has a “suppressed viral load” (i.e., less than 200 copies of HIV/ml of blood) because such an individual poses no “realistic possibility” of transmitting the virus—the Supreme Court’s legal test for whether a duty to disclose exists.
The CATIE Blog is written for people and organizations working and volunteering in Canada’s response to HIV and hepatitis C and hosts the views and opinions of frontline service providers.