For most people 1st December means little more than providing the green light to finally get started on the advent calendar. For many others it's the day that millions across the world unite to raise awareness of HIV/AIDS, a condition that World First was the first insurer to offer a travel insurance policy for.
Since its discovery, AIDS has killed 41.5 million people across the world. That makes it one of the most deadly diseases in human history. Yet a diagnosis of HIV is no longer a death sentence. At a summit in Nigeria for World AIDS Day on 1st December, Akim Bursali from the World Health Organisation delivered a speech that focused on how the death rate of HIV/AIDS is decreasing.
Anti-retroviral therapy is allowing 21 million people with HIV to live full and productive lives. The global annual death rate has steadily fallen since it peaked in 2005, from 1.9 million to 1 million in 2016. Closer to home there has been a significant reduction in the number of new HIV diagnoses among gay men in London.
Yet more work, more energy and more awareness is necessary if these trends are to continue. There are still millions of patients without access to anti-retroviral therapy. And each day there are new HIV diagnoses. Eliminating HIV/AIDS from existence is a bold ambition. But with sustained effort it’s not an unrealistic one.
It matters to us. Personally.
As travel insurers we are proud of our commitment to providing cover for thousands of medical conditions at a price that’s fair. But the ability to cover HIV/AIDS has special sentiment to us. Back in 2001 we became the first travel insurer to offer a fairly-priced policy for travellers living with HIV/AIDS. It changed travel insurance forever - and was the result of a ten-year campaign fought by one of the founding partners of our business - Suzanne Rothwell.
Need a policy? Try us first.
Today we remain one of a handful of travel insurers who can offer policies to travel-lovers with HIV - at a price that won’t sink the holiday budget. The way HIV is screened by other insurers nowadays stems from Suzanne’s original proposal, with quotes based on CD4 and viral load counts. But before you try the others, try the business who helped make HIV travel insurance possible in the first place. Because if you are well enough to travel, why should travel insurance hold you back?