Demanding health insurance for people with HIV/AIDS, health activists on Friday appealed to Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad to intercede and help facilitate provision of insurance to improve the quality of life for those living with HIV/AIDS.

Organised by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the appeal was delivered as formal letters of request sent on postcards from more than 25,000 people including those living with HIV/AIDS in India. The group organised display of postcards -- from Jantar Mantar to Barakhamba Road -- which read, “Kindly provide health insurance to people living with HIV/AIDS and save lives”.

Stigma-free care

AHF India Cares national development manager Dr. Nochiketa Mohanty said: “At present, HIV is excluded from all insurance policies available in India violating the national mandate of providing stigma-free care and support services. HIV/AIDS, which was earlier regarded as an ‘incurable disease’, has now become a manageable health concern and, therefore, should be included in and covered under medical insurance policies.”

He added that while the government and non-government antiretroviral therapy (ART) centres across the country provide for the HIV medications, all other health needs (especially surgical needs) would require health insurance coverage as they are otherwise extremely expensive.

AHF Asia-Pacific bureau chief Chhim Sarath noted: “There are many Indian who are now in desperate need of access of health insurance and lifesaving treatment, we now hope that the Union Health Ministry take a positive view on the issue.”