New legislation to prevent HIV-positive discrimination

Assemblyman Daniel O’Donnell, D-Morningside Heights, shares at the March 3 press conference why this new legislation is important to him.
Photo by Emily Forman

Assemblyman Michael DenDekker, D-Jackson Heights, introduced a bill (A-09552) to prevent HIV positive individuals from being discriminated against while applying for life insurance.

On Tuesday, March 3, DenDekker introduced the new legislation that he referred to as a “simple bill” meant to protect individuals who have been diagnosed with an HIV infection or an HIV-related illness. It would also prohibit insurance companies from requiring individuals to submit an HIV-related test prior to issuing or renewing a life insurance policy.

DenDekker described his own personal story when a close friend asked for help filling out insurance policy applications and explained how he is HIV positive and did not have life insurance because of that. 

“The insurance companies have decided through risk assessment that they don’t want to take on anybody [who] is HIV positive and that they want to maximize their profits,” DenDekker said. “It is a discriminatory process and it has to stop right now.”

Assemblyman Daniel O’Donnell, D-Morningside Heights, was also at the news conference to show his support for the bill. 

“My husband and I have been together since before AIDS existed,” O’Donnell stated as he shared his own personal story. “Many of our friends have passed through this horrible disease that is no longer as horrible as it was.”

O’Donnell said he wants people to understand that AIDS is no longer a death sentence and it should not be a barrier to getting insured. 

President and CEO of LGBT Network, David Kilmnick, was also there to support the new legislation. Kelnick points out that this legislation would help beat the stigma of AIDS and HIV and ultimately help end the discrimination and correct common misconceptions. 

DenDekker also pointed out how individuals might lie on insurance applications, which would lead them to be targeted for lying and not receive benefits or premiums.

Kevin Parker, D-Brooklyn, sponsors the bill in the Senate (S-7992). The legislation resides in the Insurance Committees in each house.