Unfortunately some countries require you to disclose your HIV status before travelling, some place restrictions on either temporary or long-term visits, while others completely ban entry of people living with HIV. This page provides useful travel advice and links to further information on current restrictions.
A number of countries restrict entry for people living with HIV.
Where can I find up-to-date information on HIV specific travel restrictions?
The Global Database on HIV specific travel and residence restrictions provides comprehensive information on travel restrictions for people living with HIV on every country in the world. This is a good place to start if you are thinking about making travel plans and want to find out if there are any restrictions in place.
HIV specific travel restrictions can change with very little notice and it is important to seek the most up to date information. NAT recommends getting confirmation by contacting the relevant embassy or consulate of the country you want to visit. If you do this, you should not reveal your name or the fact that you are HIV-positive to them. An organisation which supports people living with HIV might also be willing to do this for you.
NAT also recommends reading the travel restrictions information on the NAM website.
What are the most recent high-profile changes to HIV specific travel restrictions?
In January 2010, a 22 year ban on allowing people with HIV into the USA was lifted, and in April 2010, a 20 year ban on allowing people with HIV into China was lifted. NAT has long campaigned for the lifting of travel restrictions and were very happy with both of these moves.
What happens if I travel to a country with HIV specific travel restrictions?
When travelling to another country that has entry restrictions, you may be requested to disclose your HIV status in advance of travel or upon entry. Disclosing your status on official entry forms will probably mean that your condition is recorded on a central database that may be accessed by immigration officials in the future. This has clear privacy implications for you to consider carefully.
However, if you choose not to disclose your HIV status on official forms that request you to do so, and your condition is discovered by officials, you could be deported and no longer have the right to travel to that country again. It is important to be sure of all the facts before you travel. Visit The Global Database on HIV specific travel and residence restrictions for further information.
What should I do about my HIV medication when travelling?
It is worth noting that even though you may receive free HIV care in the UK; this does not necessarily mean that you will be entitled to it in the country you are visiting. Therefore, you may want to bring additional supplies of medications with you for the duration of your visit. Some people send their medicine ahead of them, but this may be illegal (you should check the rules for the country you’re visiting) and delays may mean you have no treatment during your trip.
It is safest to carry your medication in your hand luggage, as this is less likely to get lost. However, if you are travelling with large volumes of medication then this might be questioned if your luggage is searched. To avoid problems if this happens, it is helpful to have a copy of your prescription or a letter from your doctor saying you are taking the medicines you are carrying for a long-term medical condition. Visit the NAM website for further information and advice about travelling with your HIV drugs.
How do I know if travel vaccinations are safe for people living with HIV?
The NAM website provides comprehensive information on which vaccines are safe for people living with HIV, as well as advice on what to do if a certain vaccine isn’t advised.
What is NAT’s view on international travel restrictions for people living with HIV?
NAT has been very vocal on our view that restrictive entry regulations for travellers living with HIV are discriminatory, and perpetuate and reinforce the stigma attached to HIV. The International AIDS Society has further information about travel restrictions and discrimination on their website.
Countries that ban or put in place entry barriers for people living with HIV justify their policies as necessary to protect public health. However, growing international opinion amongst experts in infectious disease and public health, including UNAIDS, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and International Organisation for Migration (IOM), is that HIV should not be considered a condition that poses a threat to public health in relation to travel. Although HIV is infectious, it cannot be transmitted by the mere presence of a person with HIV in a country or by casual contact.
NAT has long campaigned for the lifting of travel restrictions for people living with HIV and an NAT research study identified restrictions on travelling overseas as the biggest limitation faced at work by people living with HIV in the UK. Read our report Working with HIV to find out more.
How can I support NAT’s work or give my feedback?
NAT is always keen to get feedback from people living with HIV. It’s good for us to know if our information and resources are helpful or if there other things you want to know. Your experiences can also inform our policy work and assist us in campaigning for people living with HIV to be treated fairly, and with dignity and respect. To get in touch with us, please visit our feedback page and let us know your thoughts.
NAT’s vital work can only continue with the generous help of our supporters. There are many ways you can support us without costing you a penny, such as getting involved in Press Gang, becoming an HIV Activist or signing up to a ‘no cost’ fundraising activity. If you’d like to support our work, click here to find out the different ways you can help.