Frequently Asked Questions about Living with HIV in Japan

Q. Are there any restrictions on immigration in Japan if I have HIV?

No. There are no restrictions on immigration in Japan imposed due to illness.
 

Q. Are there any restrictions on working in Japan if I have HIV?

No. The Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare says that is not necessary to notify about your illness and disability unless related to their job.
 

Q. Can foreigners get health insurance?

Yes. Foreign residents who have permission to stay in Japan for three months or more are eligible to have health insurance*, and those who are eligible are required to be enrolled in either National Health Insurance (NHI, kokumin kenko hoken) or Employees’ Health Insurance (kenko hoken). If you are insured, you bear 30% of your medical costs.
*There are some exceptions.
 

Q. Do I have to do medical checkups when I join health insurance?

No. Everyone can join either National Health Insurance (NHI, kokumin kenko hoken) or Employees’ Health Insurance (kenko hoken) without medical checkups. This does not apply if your employer had private health insurance plans.
 

Q. Can I get reductions in medical expense of HIV?

Yes. At first, if you have health insurance, which you can get if you have a status of residence for 3 months or more, you only pay 30% of your medical costs. In addition, you could also apply for disability certificate, by which you receive reduction of the self-pay burden of HIV medical expense (for example, you will pay up to JPY5,000-20,000 per month according to income levels). Please consult a professional beforehand because you need to be careful when you apply for disability certificate.
 

Q. Can I take advantage of social security benefit if I come to Japan on a working holiday visa?

Yes. If you have a visa valid for three months or more, you are eligible to have health insurance and disability certificate.
 

Q. Are HIV medications available in Japan?

Yes for most original medicine, and no for generic medicine. Although new drugs do not come to the Japanese market at the same time as in the United States or in Europe, those popular HIV medications are available also in Japan.
 

Q. Are there any social and medical supports for foreigners?

Yes. Please contact those accredited non-profit organizations listed in Useful Links; They provide social support for people living with HIV. You can get English-speaking medical care at some hospitals, and telephonic interpretation is available by private service providers.
 

Q. Will my employer find out my HIV status when I join employees’ health insurance?

No. Health insurance societies are independent from companies, and they are required to protect personal information.
 

Q. Is an HIV test included to health checkups at companies?

No. Health checkups (kenshin), which are provided when you start working and once a year for company employees, do not include HIV test.
 

Q. Do discrimination and prejudice against PLHIV exist in Japan?

Yes. Many people understand HIV/AIDS, but unfortunately many people don’t. You should better consider carefully when you disclose your HIV status.
 

Q. Do I have to tell my family, friends, and employer if I have HIV?

No. It is your decision whether or not to tell.