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If you are gay or lesbian or if you or your partner are HIV+ or suffering from Aids it is very important that you fully understand your rights and options to minimise hurt, suffering and financial difficulties.
Please read the disclaimer.
[Discrimination] [Partners] [Links - HIV Aids]
[Laws - Country - County/Province/Region/State - HIV Aids]
You should review the information under Discrimination.
The earlier near absolute refusal of insurers to cover "high risk" persons has been moderated in some jurisdicitions and in Victoria by the Equal Opportunity Act 1995 and by the Australian Commonwealth Disability Discrimination Act 1992. (See Discrimination).
There are insurers out there who will offer you cover. Shop around, check your local gay and lesbian newspapers or business directories for insurance brokers.
Where you or your partner are carrying significant debt (perhaps a home mortgage) a policy of insurance would soften the blow and perhaps prevent you or your partner having to sell your home in the event that one of you were to die.
Term insurance can be reduced annually as your debt reduces and the premiums are much more moderate than in the usual life insurance.
Insurers are sometimes reluctant to offer term insurance without first trying to sell a life insurance policy (which policies often have trailing commissions payable to the broker), but you should insist on being given details of such insurance.
Such "assets" are usually held by the trustee of the fund and therefore do not in most cases form part of your Estate, governed by the provisions of your Will.
Check to see whether you can make a binding or non-binding nominatation of a beneficiary under your policy. If so, you can nominate your partner and also spell out an identical provision in your Will.
Provided you are not supporting any other dependants, by nominating a beneficiary you will prevent the proceeds going to a family beneficiary contrary to your wishes, especially if you do not have a Will (though you should attend to making a Will (see below).
Such nominations may have to be renewed periodically, typically every three (3) years.
HIV+ and Aids sufferers should attend to finalising their Will without delay. If you want to protect your partner and give him or her an interest in your estate, see you attorney and discuss the making your Will. (See also Incapacity, Wills, Death & Inheritance).
If you are seriously ill and money is desperately short, you may be able to raise cash on your life insurance policy, but you can expect the value to be discounted by the viatical purchaser of your policy.
In some regions, you will find that your local Positive Living Resource Centre or People Living With Aids organisation will negotiate the sale of your policy.
If you own your home and have substantial equity in the property, it is also possible to raise funds against the security of your home, with deferred repayments, or a "reverse" mortgage. However, you should seek professional advice before agreeing to such an arrangement.
Most countries now have a system where you can set out your wishes for medical treatment, or have your partner or a trusted friend consult with your medical advisers concerning your treatment. This is normally documented in a living will Health Care Directive (USA) or Enduring Power of Attorney (Medical Treatment) (Australia - Victoria).
(See also Incapacity, Wills, Death & Inheritance).
It is most important that you discuss your treatment with your appointed representative, so that they understand your wishes. To minimise any conflict between family and your partner, it is preferable that you have documentation prepared that sets out your wishes given various scenarios.
Consult your attorney, whose charges are usually reasonably modest for preparing the necessary document.
All doctors and health care professionals have a duty to their patients to exercise reasonable care and to measure up to the standard of proficiency to be expected from such persons. This extends to medical advice, prescription of drugs and to physical treatment like massage or surgery, whether you are a fee paying patient or otherwise. Failure to perform their duty of care may mean the doctor or health professional has been negligent.
Even where a failure to perform their duty falls short of negligence, a doctor or health care professional may be in breach of their ethical obligations to maintain the reasonably high standards of care as may be required by their various associations. This applies equally to nurses, physiotherapists and dentists.
Your medical practitioner has a duty to make a full disclosure to you of the risks of any proposed medical procedure (and this includes HIV testing). You have a right to know and a right to information on likely medical and social outcomes ahead of the procedure being conducted.
Clearly, you cannot consent to a procedure if you have not been fully informed. And equally clearly you cannot consent if at the time you were under the influence of drugs. Indeed, a procedure conducted without consent may well constitute an assault.
If your HIV test is positive the health care professional must advise you regarding safe sex and methods of preventing transmission.