United States of America - Regulations on Entry, Stay and Residence for PLHIV

Restriction category relative to United States of America

  • Countries without restrictions

Entry regulations Residence regulations Additional information
No restrictions for people with HIV. Entry bar in place since 1987 has been lifted as of Jan 4, 2010

HIV-specific entry and residence regulations for United States of America

U.S. President Barack Obama has announced that all current restrictions affecting people with HIV from entering or migrating to the United States are lifted as of January 4, 2010. Since January 4, 2010, people living with HIV can enter the U.S. like anybody else.

Visitors under the visa waiver program (for countries where a visa is not required to travel to the USA) and are living with HIV: please note that HIV is no longer considered a communicable disease for entry purposes. When submitting the online ESTA form to clear your entry to the U.S., it is important that you do check „no“ for the question about communicable diseases. HIV is no longer considered as such by the U.S. authorities.

Customs regulations require people entering with prescription medication like antiretroviral drugs to carry a doctor’s certificate in English, stating that the drugs are required to treat a personal condition. This requirement is strictly enforced by U.S. customs authorities and it applies to all prescription drugs.

(Sources: 1, 2, 4)

A citizen of a foreign country who wishes to enter the United States must first obtain a visa, either a non-immigrant visa for temporary stay, or an immigrant visa for permanent residence. Similarly, a student visa (F or M) is required to study in the U.S. Foreign nationals may not study after entering on a visitor (B) visa or through the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), except to undertake recreational study (non-credit) as part of a tourist visit.

A 2009 rule by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention established that HIV infection is no longer defined as a communicable disease of public health significance and testing for HIV infection is no longer required as part of the U.S. immigration medical screening process. Additionally, HIV infection no longer requires a waiver for entry into the United States.

Since HIV is no longer defined as a communicable disease of public health significance, international students should not worry about traveling with their antiretroviral (ARV) medications. Students are encouraged to arrive in the U.S. with at least three months of ARV medications, in their original bottles for easy identification.

Author’s note: U.S. customs regulations require everybody to carry a doctor’s prescription for all prescription medication.

There is no national health care coverage in the United States. The U.S. Department of State requires exchange visitors on a J (exchange visitor) and their dependents be covered by medical insurance for the length of their program. While the State Department has no specific insurance requirements for international students and their dependents on an F visa, many universities require all international students to purchase health insurance. Visiting students living with HIV are encouraged to evaluate health insurance options for coverage of HIV medical services, notably antiretroviral medications.

 Visiting students with HIV experiencing any problems, including anticipated medication shortages, should contact a community-based organization in the state they are temporarily residing. Some safety net programs are available to assist people with HIV with non-immigrant status (including F, M, and J visas), depending on their income and other criteria.

(Source: 5)


HIV treatment information for United States of America

Emergency rooms cannot turn away any patient in need of care, so people with HIV can go there.  They will however be billed for the entire amount, which could be huge.  Regular care will also be self-pay, unfortunately.  Unless the patient’s country of residence has a mechanism for paying for out of country care, or they have travel insurance, it will be out of pocket.

(Source: 3)


HIV information / HIV NGOs in United States of America

Author’s note:

Use a web search engine to find local HIV organisations State by State.


Global Criminalisation of HIV Transmission Scan

The Global Criminalisation Scan is an initiative of GNP+. It aims to collect and keep up to date information on national and state level laws criminalising the transmission of or exposure to HIV. It also aims to provide an easily accessible ‘clearing-house’ of resources, research, and initiatives on the subject and to provide a platform for advocacy initiatives.

Find out more about the scan and the criminalisation of HIV transmission legislation at http://criminalisation.gnpplus.net/.



  1. Dr. Nancy Ordover and the authors, November 2, 2009, April 7 and 13, 2010
  2. Memorandum, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, November 24, 2009
  3. Jeff Taylor, AIDS Treatment Activists Coalition, via e-mail, January 5, 2010
  4. Site authors, March 31, 2022
  5. Tim Horn, Director Health Care Access at NASTAD, via e-mail, March 31, 2022


updated: 3/31/2022
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