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HIV Patient Who Turned 50, Alive and Going Strong

M. Smith was diagnosed with AIDS in the early 1990's when she was 35, healthy, and never suspected that an ex-boyfriend, who died years earlier// of AIDS related complications, had infected her. Smith also had cancer which gave her less than two years to live.

One day, flipping through a magazine for HIV positive people, she saw an advertisement offering to buy her $150,000 life insurance policy. Smith had no children and no husband. According to the contract she signed, the company, Life Partners, would pay her $90,000 up front, and cover her combined life and health insurance premiums if she lived longer than two years. When she died, the company would collect the full value of the policy. Now Smith just turned 50 and is still alive. The company has paid out $100,000 in premiums, according to Smith's attorneys.

But she claims that over the years, Life Partners has been trying to get out of its contract, claiming Smith should pay her own health premiums. This is because as she turned 50 health premiums jumped to $29,000 a year, money the self-employed woman does not have. Without the insurance, she says she will not be able to afford the medications that are keeping her alive. Smith's lawyer, Jacob Cohn is fighting to force the company to guarantee annual payment, or to put aside a large sum so she can pay the premiums herself.

She was also treated for AIDS-related cancer more than a dozen years ago, she has not had any other opportunistic infections or been hospitalized because of her condition. While there is no cure for AIDS, the new medications are extremely effective. According to court filings, Life Partners is starting to pay the money on contracts that they negotiated prior to 1998 which is likely to cut into investor profits. But for M. Smith, she is still going strong and would live up to 70.


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