Target: John Strangfeld, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Prudential Financial, Inc.
Goal: Don’t let an HIV positive applicant’s CD4 count history affect whether they are eligible for a life insurance policy.
Life insurance policies are now available to eligible applicants living with HIV thanks to a groundbreaking decision by insurance company Prudential Financial, Inc. Unfortunately, one of the qualifications of this policy is that an individual’s CD4 count can’t have ever dropped below 200 in their history of living with the virus.
The CD4 count measures how many T-cells, or white blood cells that protect the body from infection, are in one cubic millimeter of blood. A healthy, uninfected individual should have a CD4 count between 500 and 1,200. For individuals infected with HIV, it is a marker of how progressed the virus is in the body–but dependent on medication and lifestyle, a low CD4 count can rise into the healthy range. A CD4 count below 200 is a sign that an individual has developed AIDS, but even though the CD4 count can rise and viral load drop, the AIDS status is never changed.
Take Jennifer Jako, who was just rejected from a life insurance policy from Prudential because her CD4 count fell below 200 years ago. After changing medication, her most recent CD4 count was 752, a very healthy count. Furthermore, she has had an undetectable viral load for nearly 18 years. Clearly Jako’s current HIV status, though something to be careful about, is no more threatening than high blood pressure or heart disease.
Mike McFarland, chief underwriting officer of Prudential Individual Life Insurance, has said, “We’re passionate about our efforts to offer this community a way to help achieve their financial goals through the protection life insurance offers.” In order to truly offer the community of HIV positive individuals help with their financial goals, candidates need to be evaluated fairly for their current health status. Life insurance provides individuals with financial security, but providing individuals who are HIV positive with policies can be profitable for life insurance providers as well since medical developments ensure longevity of life of HIV positive individuals.
By signing the petition below, you will help urge the chairman and chief executive officer of Prudential Financial, Inc. to ignore an HIV positive applicant’s CD4 count history in order to allow individuals with high CD4 counts to get life insurance.
Dear Chairman Strangfeld,
In the past, an HIV infected applicant for a life insurance policy would immediately be rejected due to the risk of living with HIV and the high mortality rate of the infected. With medical and technological advancements, HIV is no longer the immediate death sentence it was in the 80’s and Prudential Financial, Inc. has decided to allow HIV positive individuals to get policies so long as their CD4 count has never dropped below 200.
A CD4 count below 200 is a sign that the HIV has degenerated to AIDS; however, a CD4 count can rise significantly and a viral load can drop to below a detectable rate for decades after receiving a CD4 count below 200. Yet your company rejects all healthy applicants with a CD4 count history below 200.
I am urging you to remove the stipulation that HIV positive applicants with a CD4 count history lower than 200 are permanently ineligible for life insurance. Please take actions to enforce policies that allow healthy HIV positive individuals to acquire life insurance.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Dominic Alves