Affording Your HIV Treatment


Gina Garippo

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Health insurance coverage and regulations

Now more than ever before, people with HIV are living long, productive lives, thanks to improved medications and ongoing physician care. But if you or a loved one has HIV, you know that treatment can be costly. It’s common to feel overwhelmed by the expense of medical care. Take heart—there is help to clear this hurdle.  

Many resources are available to help you pay for care, but you may need to do a little investigating. Here’s what you need to know about paying for HIV treatment and services.

Understand Your Private Insurance

If you have private insurance through your employer, through a family member’s employer, or because you purchased it yourself, it’s important to start here. Your insurance may pay for HIV treatment, but you need to find out exactly what’s covered. Call your provider and ask for details about HIV treatment and services.   

Keep Your Benefits

If you have private health insurance and are thinking about changing jobs, or are facing the possibility of losing your job, there are protections in place to help you keep insurance coverage. Part of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) ensures that people living with HIV/AIDS can maintain health insurance when changing jobs. Make sure you understand your rights.

If you don’t have private insurance, you may now be able to obtain it. In the past, having a chronic condition like HIV made it difficult to get medical insurance. However, the national Affordable Care Act states that insurers cannot deny coverage to anyone with a preexisting condition, or limit a person’s use of insurance benefits. This includes people with HIV/AIDS.

Learn about your insurance options under the Affordable Care Act.

Explore Federal Assistance

If you can’t afford private health insurance or your insurance doesn’t pay for HIV treatment, there are many federal resources available. Although wading through these programs can be confusing, there is help. Case managers and benefit counselors can connect you with the appropriate programs so you can get the services you need. Their help is free and can be accessed by going to the Care Services Locator.

Just a few of the many federal programs you may be eligible for:

  • Medicaid: A critical source of financial assistance for many people living with HIV/AIDS, this state/federal partnership provides coverage for people with lower incomes, people with disabilities, older people, and some families and children.

  • The Ryan White HIV/AIDS program : This federal program provides health services to people with HIV/AIDS who are unable to pay for it.

  • The Health Center Program: Made up of 8,000 community-based health centers throughout the United States, this program provides HIV testing and medical services to people living with HIV/AIDS. Payment for services varies, depending on a person’s ability to pay.

There are many other federal programs available to people living with HIV. Some are focused on specific groups, such as people age 65 and older, women and children, veterans, and others. The best way to learn what services and programs are right for you is to talk with a case manager at Paying for treatment may seem like a major obstacle. But remember, there are people who care and can help. By finding funding for your medical care, you can focus on your treatment plan and living your healthiest life possible.  


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Medical Reviewers: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Review Date: Aug 2, 2017

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Medical References

  1. The Affordable Care Act and HIV/AIDS. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
  2. Addressing the Cost of Care. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
  3. Paying for HIV Care. Office on Women’s Health. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

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