Financial protection decreases HIV stigma: OMN

Advances in science have proven that HIV/Aids can now be viewed as any other manageable chronic disease and infected people living positively are eligible for financial protection, says Old Mutual Namibia (OMN) chief medical officer, Dr Peter Bond.
According to Bond, the advantage with HIV/Aids being viewed as any other manageable chronic is, it influences the removal of the stigma always associated with the disease. Part of removing the stigma around HIV is the ability of financial service providers to protect the most valuable assets of those living with HIV, which is their income. This, he says, allows protection for their families, businesses and retirement savings, giving them the power to do great things with their money like anyone else.
Bond notes: “The massive resources allocated to HIV/Aids in the last 25 years mean that it is now one of the most researched and understood conditions in the world. And as that understanding has evolved, so has actuarial science, which has enabled us to refine our underwriting and provide comprehensive financial protection for those living with the disease.”
In this instance, OMN offers financial products, such as the life plan, which is a death and disability cover. The cover is, however, limited to N$500 000 as only limited underwriting is required.
As pointed out by Bond, the other option is the Greenlight, which requires full underwriting including medical tests. “A more comprehensive range of benefits including death, disability and severe illness (an industry’s first) can be offered on this option. For the first time, you are not limited to the amount of cover you can apply for”.
OMN further offers severe illness protection for diseases, such as cancer, heart disease and stroke, which give the bearer a chance to fight and recover from them.
Other local insurance companies have also expanded their policies to allow the HIV positive individuals to be provided with financial protection. Such a company is Sanlam Namibia, which has developed a HIV/Aids policy to ensure a working environment where employees living with the condition are protected from unfair discrimination and stigmatisation. Also with Sanlam Namibia, all employees have access to training, information and counseling services relating to HIV/ Aids.
According to the statistics released towards the end of last year by the Ministry of Health and Social Services (MoHSS), the HIV/Aids infection rate has decreased with the infection of people aged 15 and above dropping from 10 300 in 2010 to 9600 in 2013.