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The Delhi High Court Wednesday issued notice to the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) on a petition to make HIV/AIDS patients eligible for health insurance policies.

A division bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Sanjiv Khanna asked the insurance regulator to reply by July 27.

The court also issued notice to the central government and National Aids Control Organization (NACO) asking them to file their replies within four weeks.

The public interest litigation (PIL) was filed by advocate Tariq Adeeb and Pankaj Sinha of behalf of Rajeev Sharma.

“The practice of the insurance sector of excluding people living with HIV/AIDS from health insurance benefits is arbitrary, discriminatory and makes it harder for such people to access the requisite treatment, the petition said.

“Dr. Rajeev Sharma has conducted research and published works on various issues relating to HIV/AIDS in reputed publications. It is a common practice for insurance companies to deny people that have already been diagnosed with HIV/AIDS entitlement to an insurance policy,” the petition added.

“All the policies offered to disadvantaged groups that insurance companies are required to provide under Section 32B of the Insurance Act 1938, specifically exclude all cases related to AIDS. Only one out of total 24 insurance companies listed under the IRDA Act does not operate an exclusion clause relating to HIV/AIDS and related treatment,” it added.

Sharma further submitted that this discrimination cannot be justified on economic grounds.

While treatment of HIV/AIDS can be quite expensive, treatment for other medical conditions which are not excluded from insurance benefits, such as cancer or kidney failure, can be costlier than the treatment for HIV/AIDS, the petition said.

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