Spotlight Center on HIV Prevention Today


Surgeon Who Was Denied Disability Insurance for Taking PrEP Tells His Story

July 9, 2018

Earlier this year, urology resident Dr. Philip Cheng appeared on the front page of the New York Times. Here was the headline:

He Took a Drug to Prevent AIDS. Then He Couldn't Get Disability Insurance.

The piece understandably drew widespread attention, with sharp disapproval of the denial from ID specialists and public health officials. We couldn't understand why someone adopting the recommended strategy for HIV prevention was being penalized.

"It's like refusing to insure someone because they use seatbelts," said UCSF's Bob Grant in the piece. I've heard others cite travel immunizations and malaria prevention as analogous prevention choices. The decision by the insurance company seemed like a textbook case of discriminatory behavior.

This may all seem obvious to most of us in the ID/HIV world, but rest assured this is still not a universal view -- which is why it was incredibly brave of Dr. Cheng to come forward with this story. Think of what it took for him to do this!

In this Open Forum Infectious Diseases podcast, he tells us some more about himself and the events surrounding his decision.

Well worth the listen!

Paul E. Sax, M.D., is director of the HIV Program and Division of Infectious Diseases at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.

[Note from TheBodyPRO: This article was originally published by NEJM Journal Watch on July 8, 2018. We have cross-posted it with their permission.]

This article was provided by NEJM Journal Watch. NEJM Journal Watch is a publication of the Massachusetts Medical Society.

No comments have been made.

Add Your Comment:
(Please note: Your name and comment will be public, and may even show up in
Internet search results. Be careful when providing personal information! Before
adding your comment, please read's Comment Policy.)

Your Name:

Your Location:

(ex: San Francisco, CA)

Your Comment:

Characters remaining:


The content on this page is free of advertiser influence and was produced by our editorial team. See our content and advertising policies.