There are programs available to help those who are diagnosed with HIV. With these free or low-cost programs, treatment is available even without insurance.
One way to start looking for care is by calling a state’s HIV/AIDS hotline. The hotline connects people with agencies in the local area. From there, an agency will help with program eligibility.
The exact programs available will depend on factors like location and income, but many programs are standard across the country.
We’ll go over these nationwide programs and how they can help people find the care they need to manage HIV.
The Ryan White HIV/AIDS program
The Ryan White HIV/AIDS program has been helping people with lower incomes managing HIV get access to care since 1990.
The program is overseen and managed by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). It works with states, cities, and community organizations around the country to provide HIV treatment and services.
Those who join this program are assigned a case manager. They will figure out exactly what services someone is eligible for and how to access them.
Some eligible services through this program include:
- primary care
- hospital care
- care at outpatient clinics
- care at rehabilitation facilities
- home healthcare
- hospice care
- mental healthcare
- oral healthcare
- prescription medication assistance
- housing assistance
- child care assistance
- financial assistance
- meal and nutrition assistance
For someone to be eligible for the Ryan White HIV/AIDs program, they’ll need to have:
- an HIV or AIDS diagnosis
- an income that falls within the state’s low-income guidelines
- no health insurance coverage or health insurance coverage that won’t pay for HIV/AIDS care
The income limits for the program depend on the state. If someone is eligible, their income might qualify them for completely free access to services or access to services with a small copayment.
The case manager will explain exactly what someone qualifies for and if there will be any costs for the services.
You can get use this location map to find a Ryan White program clinic near you.
The AIDS Drug Assistance program
The Ryan White HIV/AIDS program also includes the AIDS Drug Assistance program (ADAP). ADAP is a federally funded program to help people with limited incomes pay for HIV and AIDS medications.
Just like other Ryan White programs, the exact income limits for assistance will depend on the state. In some states, the ADAP covers additional costs such as lab tests and prescription drugs that are not specifically for treating HIV/AIDS.
Patient assistance programs
Patient assistance programs are offered by pharmaceutical companies. These programs provide free or low-cost antiretroviral medications to people without insurance.
The eligibility rules vary depending on the pharmaceutical company. Those who receive Medicare, Medicaid, or are enrolled in ADAP generally won’t be eligible.
Medicaid is a federal program that provides free or low-cost healthcare coverage to people with limited incomes. Each state administers its own Medicaid program.
Medicaid covers a wide range of healthcare services such as:
- primary care
- hospital care
- HIV care
- prescription drug coverage
The income limits and exact services offered by Medicaid depend on the state. Under the Affordable Care Act, many states expanded Medicaid eligibility to include more people. In states that opted for expansion, the income limits were raised.
You can apply for Medicaid at any time. If you qualify, your coverage will begin right away.
You can find your state’s Medicaid office here.
Medicare isn’t free, but there are programs to help those with limited incomes cover healthcare costs. Plus, Medicare and Medicaid can work together to provide access to low-cost care.
Some people with HIV who are unable to work because of their symptoms qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). After receiving SSDI for 2 years, a person is automatically enrolled in Medicare, regardless of age.
When the red, white, and blue Medicare card comes in the mail, Medicare coverage can be used immediately to pay for HIV treatments.
If you have any questions about eligibility or enrollment, you can visit the Medicare website or contact Medicare directly by calling 800-MEDICARE (800-633-4227 or TTY/TDD: 877-486-2048).
Women’s and children’s programs
Children under age 19 can receive free or low-cost healthcare through the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). The income limits for CHIP enrollment depend on the state.
Many states also have programs to help women with limited incomes get quality healthcare.
The Veterans Administration
The Veterans Administration (VA) can help veterans get treatment. The VA supports veterans who are living with HIV and is the largest single provider of medical care for people with HIV in the nation.
Veteran’s benefits can help with medical care and treatment at facilities throughout the country.
More information can be found on the VA website here.
Indian Health Services
Indian Health Services (IHS) provides free medical care to members of federally recognized American Indian and Alaska Native tribes and to their descendants.
A few examples of care provided by IHS includes:
- primary care
- HIV treatment
- prescription drugs
IHS benefits can be used to receive care at an IHS facility. IHS services can also be combined with programs such as Medicare or Medicaid for even wider coverage.
To contact IHS with any questions, use this portal.
Community health centers
Health centers and clinics managed by the HRSA offer free and low-cost care to people with limited incomes, including people diagnosed with HIV.
These centers provide:
- primary care
- HIV testing
- HIV care and treatment
These centers can also provide referrals to specialists and resources for any additional care.
You can find a center near you by using this location map.
LGBTQIA+ health centers
LGBTQIA+ health centers around the country offer low-cost and free health services, including HIV testing and HIV prescription services.
Some locations might also offer primary care, mental health services, and more. Locations that offer more limited care onsite might be able to offer referrals to other low-cost providers in the area.
You can find LGBTQIA+ health centers in your state by browsing
Those with HIV might be looking for support that goes beyond paying for care. Financial support is vital, but it’s not the only care available.
Support groups, mental health resources, health management apps, and dating apps, can also make a huge impact. They can help remind those with HIV that they’re not in this alone and provide the emotional and social support needed when managing HIV.
There are support groups for people living with HIV both online and in person. Support groups are a great way to connect with people who are dealing with many of the same things.
Online support groups can be especially helpful since they work with any schedule and at any time of day. There are social media groups, message boards, and more available for people with HIV.
Mental health resources
Getting an HIV diagnosis can be overwhelming and hard to manage. Talking with a mental health professional is a great way to begin working through all the feelings this diagnosis can bring.
These professionals can listen, help work through feelings, and help develop positive coping strategies. Many mental health professionals are available through telehealth and can provide care while clients are in the comfort and privacy of their own homes.
Dating with an HIV diagnosis might feel difficult to navigate. That’s why dating sites and apps specifically for people with HIV were created. These sites match people living with HIV.
There can be a lot to manage with an HIV diagnosis. Thankfully, there are plenty of apps that can help.
There are several apps to help:
- save money on prescriptions
- set medication reminders
- talk with a doctor or healthcare professional
- learn about an HIV diagnosis
Plus, most of these apps are free and easy to use.
For those without insurance, there are many programs available to help with HIV testing and treatment. Most programs are income-based and provide free or low-cost care to people who qualify.
The best way to get started is to call your state’s HIV/AIDS hotline. They can point to agencies and outline the best programs for specific needs.