Traveling Outside the U.S.

Content From: HIV.govUpdated: April 25, 20236 min read


Have a healthy trip! Before you travel overseas, talk to your doctor about how to stay healthy.

Can I Travel Abroad with HIV?

With proper treatment, people with HIV can lead healthy and active lives, including traveling for business and pleasure. However, traveling to other countries, particularly developing countries, may require some advance preparation and special precautions.

Before You Travel

COVID-19 Information

CDC recommends making sure you are up to date with COVID-19 vaccines, including boosters, and consider getting tested before travel. Follow all requirements and recommendations at each location during travel. If you are traveling internationally, check the COVID-19 Travel Health Notice for your destination and visit CDC’s International Travel webpage for requirements and recommendations.

Before you travel, see your health care provider or travel health specialist to discuss the medical risks you might face and what you should do to prepare for safe and healthy travel. Ideally, this conversation should take place at least 4-6 weeks before your scheduled departure.

Talk to your provider about the places you plan to visit. They may:

  • Recommend certain travel vaccines. Most travel vaccines are made from killed bacteria or viruses and can be given safely to people with HIV and others with weakened immune systems. However, they may be less effective than in people with strong immune systems and may not provide full protection. Your doctor may recommend blood tests to confirm that a vaccine was effective or recommend additional precautions to keep you safe. Some vaccines are made from live viruses and many people with weakened immune systems should not take them. However, depending on the circumstances, the benefits of protection may outweigh the risks. Talk to your health care provider about what is recommended for you.
  • Recommend you pack a supply of medicine like antibiotics to treat travelers’ diarrhea, which can affect people with weakened immune systems.
  • Provide you with the name(s) of health care providers or clinics that treat people with HIV infection in the region you plan to visit.
  • Advise you on how to minimize the risk of malaria and other insect-borne diseases such as dengue and yellow fever, depending on your destination. People who have weakened immune systems can get seriously ill from malaria, so it’s important to closely follow your doctor’s instructions for taking the preventative medicine, which may include taking it for several weeks before and after the trip. You should also take steps to avoid bug bites: wear insect repellent, wear long pants and sleeves, and sleep under a net if your rooms are exposed to the outdoors.

Also, educate yourself about your insurance policies:

  • Review your medical insurance to see what coverage it provides when you are away from home. You may purchase supplemental traveler’s insurance to cover the cost of emergency medical evacuation by air and the cost of in-country care if these costs are not covered by your regular insurance. View the U.S. State Department’s information on insurance for overseas travel.
  • Take proof of insurance, such as a photocopy or scan your policy and send the image to an e-mail address you can access both in the United States and abroad. Leave a copy at home and tell your friends or family where it is located.

Stay Up to Date on Your Sexual Health Care

Whether you are traveling or staying close to home for events, CDC recommends the following:

  • Visit your health care provider or find a health clinic to stay up to date with your sexual health care. Discuss the types of sex you have so that your provider can offer testing and prevention services, including vaccines, that are right for you.
  • Know your HIV status. If you don’t know your HIV status, get tested near where you live, work, or play, including options for ordering free self-testing kitsExit Disclaimer. No matter your results, there are steps you can take to stay healthy. If you don’t have HIV, you have options to prevent HIV, including finding a PrEP provider to see if PrEP is right for you. If you test positive, you can find a care provider and live well with HIV. HIV treatment will keep you healthy and prevent you from transmitting HIV to your sex partners.
  • If you are sexually active, get tested for other sexually transmitted infections (STIs), like gonorrhea and syphilis. This is one of the most important things you can do to protect your health. You can also find STI testing sites near you and learn more about how to prevent STIs.
  • Get tested for viral hepatitis and consider vaccinations for hepatitis A and B. Learn about hepatitis testing, prevention, and treatment.
  • Learn more about mpox and be sure to get your two-dose mpox vaccine. Mpox cases in the United States are becoming increasingly rare, but unvaccinated and under-vaccinated people who could benefit from vaccine may still be at risk. The best protection against mpox occurs 2 weeks after the second shot, so plan ahead and use other strategies to prevent mpox.
  • Be knowledgeable of other infections like shigella and meningococcal disease, and how to prevent them.

When You Travel Abroad

Food and water in developing countries may contain germs that could make you sick.

Do not:

  • eat raw fruit or vegetables that you do not peel yourself;
  • eat raw or undercooked seafood or meat;
  • eat unpasteurized dairy products;
  • eat anything from a street vendor;
  • drink tap water (in developing countries some hotels may purify their own water, but it is safer to avoid it), drinks made with tap water, or ice made from tap water.

Do eat and drink:

  • hot foods;
  • hot coffee or tea;
  • bottled water and drinks (make sure the seals are original and have not been tampered with);
  • water that you bring to a rolling boil for one full minute then cool in a covered and clean vessel;
  • fruits that you peel;
  • wine, beer and other alcoholic beverages are also safe.

Be aware:

  • Tuberculosis is very common worldwide and can be severe in people with HIV. Avoid hospitals and clinics where coughing TB patients are treated. See your doctor upon your return to discuss whether you should be tested for TB.
  • Animal wastes, such as fecal droppings in soil or on sidewalks, can pose hazards to individuals with weakened immune systems. Physical barriers, such as shoes, can protect you from direct contact. Likewise, towels can protect you from direct contact when lying on a beach or in parks. If you are in physical contact with animals, wash your hands thoroughly afterwards with soap and water.
  • Take all your medications on schedule, as usual.
  • Stick to your special diet, if you are on one.
  • Take the same precautions that you take at home to prevent transmitting HIV to others.

Are There Restrictions on Traveling Abroad?

Some countries restrict visitors with HIV from entering their borders or staying for long periods of time. Others permit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identification. According to the State Department, more than 70 countries consider consensual same-sex relations a crime, sometimes carrying severe punishment. Before you travel internationally, be aware of the laws, policies, and practices in the country or countries you plan to visit. This information is usually available from the consular offices of each country or in the State Department’s country information summaries, along with information about entry and exit requirements.

Traveling to the U.S. from Other Countries

As of January 2010, travelers with HIV or AIDS are allowed entrance into the U.S.

What Travelers’ Health Resources Are Available?

CDC's Yellow Book, a guide to health information for international travelers is an excellent resource for anyone traveling overseas. The section on Immunocompromised Travelers has extensive information for people with HIV.

CDC’s Travelers’ Health website contains find information on:

Additionally, the Guidelines for the Prevention and Treatment of Opportunistic Infections in Adults and Adolescents with HIV contain information about immunization against malaria and other infections that may be useful.