Many STIs are not a serious cause for concern, however there are some patterns or types of STIs that would make insurance companies think twice during the underwriting process. HIV, Syphilis, gonorrhea, and other STDs are extremely widespread. There is a significant prevalence of sexually transmitted diseases among those of reproductive age. With no treatment available, Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is widely regarded as the most serious sexually transmitted disease (STD). You may put purchasing life insurance on your to-do list if you worry about providing a death benefit to your loved ones so that they can continue to live comfortably after your passing.
Although not all STIs are a cause for concern, there are some that may make it more challenging to obtain life insurance. This is especially the case if you are being diagnosed with several different types of STIs a year or if you have a more serious STD like HIV/AIDS. A common question we get from our clients is “Can I get life insurance if I have an STI or STD?”
More than 30 different germs, viruses and parasites are known to be transferred through sexual intercourse. Eight of these infections have the highest association with sexually transmitted diseases. Of them, 4 are currently curable: syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia and trichomoniasis. The other 4 are viral infections which are incurable: hepatitis B, herpes simplex virus (HSV or herpes), HIV and human papillomavirus (HPV) (HPV).
Types of Sexually Transmitted Infections
HIV causes AIDS and is spread through unprotected sexual contact or drug injection with a tainted needle. It can also be spread by intravenous drug use and, less commonly, contaminated blood, blood products, needles, or other sharp objects.
HIV germs kidnap T-helper lymphocytes upon entering circulation (also known as CD4 cells, T cells or helper-Ts). T-cells band together in a healthy immune system to fight disease. However, the hijacked T-cells mass-produce HIV. Untreated helper T cells mass generate HIV, depleting normal helper-Ts in the bloodstream and leaving the patient vulnerable to AIDS.
The five most common are:
- Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia
- HIV wasting syndrome
- Candidiasis of the esophagus
- Kaposi’s sarcoma
Opportunistic infections pose little harm while the immune system is healthy, but when it’s not, as in AIDS, they cause havoc. For the first 10 years of the AIDS outbreak, most victims were doomed. Few averaged two years. Today, several HIV treatments are available. HIV is incurable, but good drug adherence can prevent AIDS.
With highly active antiretroviral therapy, AIDS diagnoses and fatalities dropped from 1995 to 1998 and stayed steady from 1999 to 2008 at 38,279 diagnoses and 17,489 deaths per year. Despite a drop in AIDS diagnoses and fatalities, there were 1,178,350 people with HIV at the end of 2008, including 236,400 who were undiagnosed. Undiagnosed HIV puts sexual partners at risk.
The hepatitis B virus causes a vaccine-preventable liver infection known as hepatitis B virus. (HBV). Hepatitis B is transmitted when blood, sperm, or other bodily fluids from an infected person enter the body of an uninfected person. This can occur through sexual contact, the sharing of needles, syringes, or other drug-injection equipment, or transmission from mother to baby at birth.
Not everyone who is newly infected with HBV experiences symptoms, but those who do may experience fatigue, loss of appetite, stomach pain, nausea, and jaundice. Hepatitis B is a short-term illness for many people. Others may develop a long-term, chronic infection, which can lead to serious, even life-threatening health problems such as cirrhosis or liver cancer. The risk of chronic infection increases with age: approximately 90% of infants infected with hepatitis B develop chronic infection, whereas only 2% to 6% of adults infected with hepatitis B become chronically infected. Getting vaccinated is the most effective way to prevent hepatitis B.
Chlamydia is one of the most common bacterial STI. It is caused by the Chlamydia trachomatis bacterium, which can infect the urethra and cervix (uterus opening). It is prevalent among adolescents aged fifteen to nineteen. As with other sexually transmitted infections, chlamydia tends to be asymptomatic and, as a result, is often misdiagnosed until it has reached a more serious stage. Three out of four women and one out of two men are symptom-free. In 40% of cases, by the time a girl seeks medical attention, the disease has progressed to pelvic inflammatory disease which is a leading cause of female infertility and pelvic pain.
Sometimes, chlamydia infection is confused with gonorrhea, another bacterial infection transmitted via vaginal, anal, and oral contact. Not only do they share many of the same symptoms, but they can also occur simultaneously.
Typically, gonorrhea begins in the urethra (bladder opening) or cervix. However, the rapidly multiplying Neisseria gonorrhoeae bacterium can migrate to the uterus and fallopian tubes, causing pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). Similar to chlamydia, the infection may also affect the rectum.
Symptoms of STIs
A person can have a sexually transmitted infection (STI) without presenting symptoms of sickness. STIs are characterized by symptoms such as vaginal discharge, urethral discharge or burning in men, genital ulcers, and abdominal pain.
The following symptoms and signs may indicate a STI:
- Sores or bumps in the genital, oral, or rectal regions.
- Urination that hurts or burns
- Emptying of the penis
- Odorous or unusual vaginal discharge
- Unusual vaginal bleeding
- Pain during sex
- Sore, swollen lymph nodes, typically in the groin, but occasionally more widely.
- Lower abdominal distress
- Rash on the trunk, hands, or face.
Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), specifically gonorrhea, to antibiotics has increased rapidly in recent years, reducing treatment options. The Gonococcal Antimicrobial Resistance Surveillance Programme (GASP) has revealed high rates of resistance to numerous antibiotics, including quinolone resistance, increasing azithromycin resistance, and emerging resistance of extended-spectrum cephalosporins, a last-line treatment, thereby increasing the likelihood that gonorrhea will become untreatable. AMR exists for other, less common STIs, making prevention and prompt treatment essential.
Currently, there are some effective treatments available for a number of STIs.
Existing single-dose antibiotic regimens are typically effective against four bacterial STIs: chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis, and one parasitic STI: trichomoniasis. The most effective medications for herpes and HIV are antivirals that can modulate the progression of the disease, but cannot cure it. For hepatitis B, antiviral medications can be used to combat the virus and reduce liver damage.
Is There Life Insurance Available for STD/STI Patients?
People living with STIs (such as HIV) in Canada who are looking for life insurance have a few different options open to them, including fully underwritten plans. Alternatives are available in the life insurance market for dozens of medical issues, and these options come in a wide variety to meet the requirements of each individual customer. There are fully underwritten plans available for people who are living with STIs which means that they can choose between term life insurance and permanent life insurance for their coverage. There are also life insurance policies that are simplified, as well as life insurance policies that do not require medical exams or that are guaranteed.
Factors Insurance Companies Consider If You Have an STI
Sexually transmitted infections, also known as STIs, are a separate health concern that, if properly managed, should not pose a significant challenge when it comes to underwriting. In most cases, insurance companies would be interested in finding out whether this was an isolated or recurring occurrence. To demonstrate, if you have more than 10 STIs in a year, this may point to a more complicated health history, whereas if you only have one or two STIs in a year, this may be considered more straightforward. This pertains to a different aspect of one’s health.
Since each situation is different, it is recommended that you seek the assistance of an advisor to guide you through the steps of acquiring insurance coverage.
You will be asked the normal questions required of all applicants for life insurance. However, upon closer inspection, you will notice that a number of the questions can be used to assess whether or not a person has been diagnosed with an STI. Few should be able to tell whether a person has developed other major medical issues as a result of their STI diagnosis.
- How old are you?
- What is your height and weight currently?
- Have you been diagnosed with any major pre-existing medical illnesses?
- Have you ever been diagnosed with a heart attack or stroke?
- Have you ever received a cancer, heart disease, diabetes, or depression diagnosis?
- Have any members of your immediate family been diagnosed with cancer, cardiovascular disease, or diabetes?
- Are you now using any prescription medications (such as antiviral drugs or antibiotics)?
- Are there any members of your immediate family who have had a heart attack or stroke?
- Have you applied for or received any sort of disability benefits in the past year?
- In the previous two years, have you been admitted to the hospital for any reason?
- Are you currently employed?
- Have you used any tobacco or nicotine products in the past year?
- Do you actively engage in or intend to engage in any dangerous hobbies or activities?
Note: Please keep in mind that depending on the type of STI you have and your overall health, there may be no consequences on your rates. You can be eligible for insurance at standard conditions.
Life insurance policies for individuals with STIs
If you have some type of STI, you can apply for most, if not all types of life insurance, depending on your overall health condition and lifestyle. Below are the common types of life insurance you may choose to buy.
Term Life Insurance
Term Life Insurance has a death benefit that is paid out in the event that you pass away before attaining a specified age (for example, 65) or within a specific time frame, such as 10 or 20 years. In most cases, the insurance provider will be the one to determine your premiums, which may experience an increase over time.
Permanent Life Insurance
Permanent or Whole life insurance provides coverage for the remainder of your life and includes a cash value component that can be accessed during your lifetime. Whole life insurance is more expensive than term life insurance since a death payout is guaranteed under a whole life insurance policy. Term life insurance, on the other hand, provides fixed premiums for a specified time period, such as 20 or 30 years. Term life insurance is less expensive than permanent life insurance because it provides only coverage and no monetary value.
Simplified Life Insurance
Simplified life insurance is a policy for which it is relatively simple to qualify and purchase. There is no required medical exam, however there is a short health questionnaire with 3 to 12 questions. You can quickly qualify for this insurance policy by completing the necessary documentation. Simplified life insurance in Canada is ideal for those who cannot qualify for standard life insurance (also known as traditional life insurance), such as those with a pre-existing medical condition.
Guaranteed issue Life insurance
Guaranteed issue life insurance does not require a physical examination or a health and medical history questionnaire. As implied by the name, your coverage is guaranteed, no questions asked. Similarly to simplified life insurance, this coverage can be obtained quickly, and you won’t have to wait a long time or worry about not being accepted. Unfortunately, this is accompanied by increased premiums and reduced coverage. This is due to the considerable risk associated with insuring people seeking this type of insurance, as they may possibly have more health issues or concerns. There may also be a delay in receiving the death benefit, and typically has a 2 year deferral period. This sort of life insurance is ideal for people who do not qualify for anything else, or for those who wish to provide their loved ones with at least a small death benefit.
Finding the right life insurance policy for you
Finding life insurance after being diagnosed with an STI can seem daunting, but Protect Your Wealth will help you identify and find the most affordable insurance for your situation.
To schedule a consultation about your income protection goals, or if you have any questions about insurance in Ontario or Canada, please contact Protect Your Wealth or call us at 1-877-654-6119 to talk to an advisor today! We’re proudly based out of Hamilton, and service clients anywhere in Ontario, British Columbia and Alberta including areas such as Ottawa, Kingston, Lethbridge, and Burnaby.