Can I Travel or Work Abroad if I Have HIV?

Some countries are tricky when it comes to traveling with HIV and dozens have legal restrictions on foreigners who have HIV.

BY Charles Hicks

September 02 2015 10:01 AM ET UPDATED: September 02 2015 10:01 AM ET

News today that Signapore is removing it's barrier on HIV-positive travelers reminds us that if you’re HIV-positive and looking to visit or work in another country anytime soon, you had better know whether your status will be a source of trouble. In some places, stories of travelers who ended up at the emergency room after an unexpected accident and then found themselves immediately deported for being HIV-positive aren’t uncommon. Forty-five countries, territories, and regions have some legal restrictions on foreigners known to have HIV, according to a 2012 study compiled by UNAIDS.

Caribbean Paradises
Turks and Caicos (above) in the Caribbean are a sightseer’s paradise, but the islands bar HIV-positive people from working or residing there for even a short period. But if your hopes are set on escaping to the Caribbean, there are no laws on the books barring HIV-positive tourists from St. Lucia or Trinidad and Tobago, and, let’s face it, they probably have better beaches.

Headed to Zion
Surprisingly, some of the places that have restrictions on HIV-positive travelers are known for social and political acceptance of LGBT people. For example, LGBT-friendly countries including Israel, Australia, and New Zealand have laws requiring HIV testing for foreign workers, and the United States barred HIV-positive visitors until fairly recently.

Israel requires HIV testing for certain foreign workers, and the Ministry of Interior reserves the right to deny work permits to those who are HIV-positive. The law appears designed to largely to prevent people from countries with particularly high HIV rates, such as those in sub-Saharan Africa from entering the country, but it can affect anyone with HIV, including Americans.