The Connection Between Columbus, Henry VIII, Hitler and Toulouse-Lautrec

When life insurance companies are assessing a customer for risk in order to work out their premiums, they would do well to carefully consider the person’s sexual history. Many young people go through a period of lax sexual behaviour but this can have a detrimental effect on their future health.

Sexually transmitted diseases are mostly curable these days. However, they still carry a stigma which prevents a lot of sufferers seeking help, thus further spreading the diseases. With syphilis alone, thousands of deaths are occurring every year across the globe.

It is believed that Christopher Columbus is responsible for bringing syphilis to Europe on his arrival home from his American discoveries back in 1493. Scientists have traced the evolution of syphilis back to that time in South America. Throughout the years, there have been many alleged famous sufferers of this disfiguring illness including Henry VIII, Adolf Hitler, Ivan the Terrible and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec.

Not so long ago, it is reported that Prince Albert Victor was suffering from syphilis due to his familiarity with prostitutes. It is also believed that this is what affected his brain and sent him mad, although there is no documented evidence to prove this.

In the US alone, 3,400 new cases of congenital syphilis are discovered every year. Up to 40% of pregnant women with untreated syphilis will lose their babies. An unnecessary statistic given that this disease is relatively easy to treat these days. But that hasn’t always been the case.

Mercury was once the given treatment for cases of syphilis. This lead to the saying ‘A night in Venus leads to a lifetime in Mercury’. A patient was encased in a box with just his head sticking out, Mercury was added to the box and a fire lit beneath. The mercury vaporized, supposedly curing the disease but was just one of an assortment of failing treatments.

Left untreated, syphilis can cause irreparable damage to the heart, aorta, brain, eyes and bones. It can also prove fatal. Does this mean that life insurance would not pay out, as sexual behaviour is a matter of choice? Does it matter that, while not construed as self inflicted, it could be looked at as our own fault?

Thankfully, life insurance will pay out in the event of a death from an STD. If not, then life insurance companies could argue that every accident or illness was because of our lifestyle choices and there would simply be no life insurance business in existence.

It is essential to get STD’s treated as soon as possible as they can cause other problems, including cancer of the reproductive tract and Pelvic Inflammatory Disease. This will result in scaring which is responsible for approximately 9% of ectopic pregnancies. Another life threatening situation for expectant mothers.

As always, it pays to look after our own health to the best of our ability. In the event of any infections, however embarrassing they may be deemed, prompt intervention is essential. Not only will you prolong your own life with a better quality, you will avoid problems later on in life and reduce your life insurance premiums.

Insurance expert Catherine Harvey looks at the effects on life insurance of sexual health. To find out more please visit