The Union Health and Family Welfare Ministry in India has dispatched a notice to the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA), asking to extend health insurance coverage to people living with HIV (PLHIV).

The Department of AIDS Control (DAC) wrote a letter to the IRDA, pointing that the standard underwriting guidelines has prevented PLHIV from availing insurance coverage.

DAC additional secretary Aradhana Johri was quoted by The Hindu as saying, "It is not an either-or-situation for HIV/AIDS patients."

"They should be able to buy both life and health insurance if their CD4 count [a measure of sickness] is above a particular cut-off. HIV/AIDS should be treated [as] any other chronic diseases like cancer or diabetes," Johri told the news agency.

According to an estimate, there are nearly 2.1 million people living with HIV in the country who are denied health and life insurance for other diseases if they test HIV-positive.

Planned to offer coverage from April 2014, the underwriters will have to implement a board-approved policy to underwrite insurance for people living with the HIV/AIDS, clearly considering all risks associated.

Furthermore, they must also continue to provide health coverage to customers who contract HIV after they have purchased their policies, according to the IRDA’s new regulation.

The insurance products of both group and individual type should also be available for widows and children.

Johri further explained that the DAC had formed a technical working group to work out the means of including PLHIV under insurance products.