March 2013    En español

For information about traveling abroad, consult HIVtravel.org.

For information about US immigration, consult Lambda Legal’s publication, HIV & Immigration: The Basics.

President Barack Obama has announced that all previous restrictions affecting people with HIV from entering or migrating to the US are lifted as of January 4, 2010. The final rule was published in the Federal Registry November 2, 2009. It stated: “As a result of this final rule, aliens will no longer be inadmissible into the US based solely on the ground they are infected with HIV, and they will not be required to undergo HIV testing as part of the required medical examination for US immigration.”

This means that from January 4, 2010, people living with HIV can enter the US like anybody else. However, regulations require people entering with any prescription medication, including HIV meds, to carry a doctor’s certificate in English stating that the drugs are required to treat a personal condition.

Some important points to note:

  • Carry an official letter from your doctor in English that states your prescription(s) is needed to treat a personal condition. It does not need mention HIV. Do not advertise you’re HIV-positive, such as a red ribbon.
  • Keep your medications in their original bottles. Customs may think they’re contraband if you try to hide them.
  • If you carry on liquid medication exceeding 3 ounces or 100ml (between 1/4 and 1/2 cup), you must declare it at security checkpoint.
  • Carry your syringes with your injected medications.
  • Carry prescription medication in hand luggage. Bringing your meds in checked baggage may not be wise since it may get delayed or lost.
  • Foreign prescriptions cannot be filled since US law states that prescriptions must be filled out by a practicing US doctor.
  • If you encounter problems, request a private screening to protect your confidentiality.
  • Some people have mailed or shipped a quantity of their meds ahead of time to a US address from which they’ll pick them up while on their visit. However, this is no longer necessary so long as you keep a doctor’s certificate for the need for the prescription(s) with you.
  • US health costs are expensive, so people should strongly consider purchasing US visitor medical insurance to cover unexpected health issues while in the US. Search online for plans or check your local authorities for more information.
  • Websites that may be helpful are www.hivtravel.org, www.uscis.gov, www.cdc.gov, http://travel.state.gov, www.plwha.org, and www.nationalimmigrationproject.org.