Updated for 2023-2024
While the world has been focused on the COVID-19 pandemic for the past couple of years, we shouldn’t lose sight of other diseases that have been afflicting vulnerable populations.
Since the HIV/AIDS epidemic began, 85.6 million people have become afflicted with HIV and 40 million have died due to AIDS-related illnesses (source).
In 2022 alone, there were about 1.3 million new HIV infections worldwide (source) and an estimated 630,000 people died from AIDS-related illnesses. Though no cure has been found yet for HIV/AIDS, there has been great progress in the treatment of the disease. However, HIV/AIDS remains a major global health issue.
Today, HIV-positive individuals who have access to advanced treatments are able to live long, healthy lives. However, many people around the world – particularly in developing countries – have only basic health care options, with little or no access to modern treatments. In many communities as well, access to preventative education and contraception is lacking, leading to infection particularly among younger populations and those living in poverty.
To compound the issue, stigma attached to HIV/AIDS is prevalent all over the world, which results in poor medical treatment, lack of access to basic and necessary services such as education and jobs, and even ostracizing from one’s family or community.
Now is the time to help. By lending your time and skills as a volunteer for one of the affordable, reputable HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment programs listed here, you can have a hand in ending this crisis.
What You’ll Do as an HIV/AIDS Volunteer
A few ways you can help as a volunteer on an HIV/AIDS program include:
- Help raise public awareness about prevention, treatment, and living with the disease with GoEco, as well as supporting those affected by it
- Fundraising for HIV/AIDS treatment and research
- Assisting in research on treatments and cures for HIV/AIDS
- Working with children who have been orphaned due to the disease
- Volunteering with HIV/AIDS awareness and support programs at clinics
The work you do will make a positive impact on these communities – and it will be incredibly rewarding for you as a volunteer. As one International Volunteer HQ volunteer said, “The staff members, sensational volunteers and everyone at the HIV/AIDS project changed my life.”
Qualifications for HIV/AIDS Volunteer Abroad Programs
Generally, most volunteer programs you’ll sign up for require that you be at least 18 years old – though some organizations allow high school students to participate (be sure to check in advance). It’s also important to arrange travel/medical insurance, which some volunteer programs offer as part of their package. You may also need a background check, particularly if you’re providing medical services or volunteering with children.
Depending on what types of work you’ll be doing, you may need an educational background in that field, or even professional medical training. For instance, you typically have to be at least a pre-med student or even a medical student or intern if you’re going to assist with HIV/AIDS research or provide direct treatment to patients. If you’re helping out with basic care, community outreach (such as this HIV/AIDS outreach project with International Volunteer HQ), and other administrative support activities, there aren’t usually any extra requirements, but you should always check with your program provider to make sure. For example, to be part of GoEco medical project in South Africa, which includes promoting HIV/AIDS awareness, some medical knowledge (including a certification in first aid) would be helpful.
HIV/AIDS Volunteering Opportunities Abroad
IVHQ focuses on affordable travel experiences that heighten global awareness and cultural understanding. Founded in 2007, this organization works in 40+ destinations and places thousands of volunteers each year in ethical programs that prioritize a community’s needs and the protection of its children. Responsible tourism is also a priority, in line with IVHQ’s long-term mindset. By partnering with organizations based in host countries, IVHQ ensures that volunteers are genuine needed, the staff is local, and costs are reduced, making programs more affordable.
International Volunteer HQ has an HIV/AIDS support program that you can register for right now in Cambodia. You can volunteer for a 5 weeks or longer – it’s up to you. Another plus about this project is that it’s very affordable for travelers on a budget, starting at only $20 per day. You’ll volunteer in one of three possible locations: Siem Reap, Phnom Penh, or Battambang. As an NGO volunteer in Cambodia, you’ll help raise awareness and education around HIV/AIDS through delivering classes on personal hygiene and transmission prevention.
Cambodia’s HIV rate ranks the highest in Asia and many people struggle with the virus and the stigma attached to it. If you’re passionate about using education to support those living with HIV/AIDS, and to help prevent the spread, your support will go far. You’ll also assist on programs providing counseling to patients, HIV/AIDS testing, distribution of ARVs, and community outreach programs. Durations begin at five weeks, and the program fee is $795. Learn more and start your application here.
Since 2006, GoEco has offered affordable volunteer abroad programs and internships in over 40 countries throughout Africa, Asia, Australasia, Central America, Europe, the Middle East, and South America. With more than 150 different programs, GoEco is a great organization to check out if you’re looking for a variety of impactful volunteer abroad trips to choose from, from wildlife conservation to teaching English. GoEco was recently recognized as the Top Volunteer Abroad Organization from GoAbroad, Top Eco-Enthusiast by Greenmatch, and has been recommended by Buzzfeed, Huffington Post, and more. As a volunteer, you will have 24-hour support from the GoEco team, from start to finish. Currently, GoEco is offering a special travel grant where you can stay for the 3rd week free! Check out the qualifying programs here!
With impactful volunteer programs and internships worldwide, GoEco offers a variety of opportunities for those interested in providing medical care, healthcare services, and community outreach and support. One program to consider brings you to Livingstone, Zambia, where you may assist with home-based care and clinic services, provide HIV/AIDS education in prisons, and interact with elders at a senior home. You will work with the local staff to promote HIV health talks to educate the community regarding HIV awareness and prevention. Your main goal is to offer emotional and social support for patients, as well as educate them about maintaining physical health and preventing diseases.
For over 25 years, Projects Abroad has been setting up sustainable projects that contribute to the development of underprivileged communities around the world. Originally a small company started by students who wanted a break from school, Projects Abroad now sends more than 10,000 travelers worldwide each year. It maintains offices around the world, and is considered one of the world’s leading international volunteer organizations.
The rising number of HIV/AIDS cases worldwide is an issue they’re working to address. By joining one of their projects, you can help educate people, reduce stigma about the disease, and lower the rate of infection.
Travel to Ghana and intern with medical professionals, assisting them as they treat patients at a hospital and during outreaches. Ghana needs your help to reduce the number of HIV/AIDS infections through awareness campaigns on the disease. You’ll also focus on reducing the stigma against people affected by HIV/AIDS. In your free time, you can enjoy the beaches, go sightseeing, or hike through one of the nature reserves. During your stay, you’ll live with a host family with placements available for one week or longer. Read more here.
Many people with HIV/AIDS are stigmatized, and children affected by the disease are often abandoned or socially isolated. Your goal as an HIV/AIDS Volunteer in Nepal is to improve the well-being and education of children affected by HIV/AIDS. You’ll teach basic skills such as reading and counting, and organise fun, educational activities to help kids thrive. Placement is with a host family, sometimes sharing a room with another volunteer. You are invited to stay for two weeks or longer. Learn more and apply here.
When you choose a Public Health internship in Belize, you’ll focus on the collection of data on HIV/AIDS that’ll be shared with the National Aids Commission. This data will be used to support and justify future HIV/AIDS-related activities in the local community. These include testing days, awareness sessions, and public communication about the disease. Your project work will be based in the town of San Pedro, and during your free time, explore the beauty of the tropical island, Ambergris Caye. You can also relax with your host family and enjoy the experience of Belize. Click here to read more.
Founded by volunteers, for volunteers, Plan My Gap Year places travelers in local communities working towards long-term sustainable goals. Based in the UK, PMGY offers affordable and safe opportunities to volunteers, with transparent fees and risk-assessed projects. The company integrates social media into its training, putting volunteers in touch with each other before they embark on their adventures – meaning that you’ll feel welcome and supported even before you leave home. PMGY places 2,000 volunteers overseas annually, and in many of its destinations, you’ll stay in a community house with other volunteers, guaranteeing a strong social element.
Plan My Gap Year offers several different volunteer opportunities in Ghana that focus on cultural immersion and helping disadvantaged communities. Their medical program involves caring for HIV/AIDS patients and raising public awareness about prevention and treatment for this disease. As a healthcare volunteer in Ghana, you will gain first-hand knowledge of the country’s medical system, learning from local staff and supporting them as they face the HIV/AIDS pandemic.
The National Health Insurance Act of 2003 continues to improve access to healthcare in Ghana – however, patients still face a number of challenges, including under-resourced and poorly staffed hospitals. Cultural factors and a lack of education further diminish the ability to treat patients, leading to an alarming number of preventable cases swamping medical treatment centers daily. Your level of involvement is dictated by your experience, your willingness to become involved, and the duration of your visit. If you have little experience, your work will be largely observational and educational. If you have a medical background, you may be asked to perform more basic tasks. Program fees begin at $714 for two weeks – learn more and apply here.
Like many African countries, Tanzania faces a shortage of healthcare workers as well as limited training programs, poor working conditions, and low pay. A critical pandemic like HIV/AIDS amplifies the situation, leaving many people in need of adequate healthcare and education. As a medical volunteer in Tanzania with Plan My Gap Year, you can work with a government hospital and community clinic within the Arusha and Meru districts, catering to all kinds of general health matters. The facility is open 24 hours and treats around 50 to 80 patients each day.
You’ll work alongside qualified local staff, and you can choose to work in one or several different departments in the hospital. A government hospital comes with challenges, so you should be prepared to experience strong emotions with the standards of the facilities and limited equipment, resulting in slow and impersonal treatment of patients. Challenge yourself to learn and cope – the rewards are numerous. You are invited to stay two weeks to six months, with a program fee starting at $540 – learn more and apply here.
Agape Volunteers is an excellent choice if you’re looking for a reputable and affordable volunteer abroad trip to Africa where you can hone your skills and make a positive impact. Founded in 2011, AV is a registered UK charity that offers a variety of programs including volunteering, tourism, and development work in Kenya, South Africa, Tanzania, Ghana, and Maasai-land. Program costs include registration and administration fees, tours and excursions, housing and feed, and even travel insurance, making Agape Volunteers the most affordable option for volunteering in Africa.
Help promote the health of a community while you gain valuable skills as a volunteer with HIV/AIDS awareness and care in Kenya. On this program, you will support the healthcare teams on the ground with their ongoing work. The HIV program was built in partnership with local health authorities and universities in Nairobi to offer volunteers an International Diploma in HIV testing and counseling through an intensive two-week course, before being placed in a dedicated outreach center. The course helps to ensure safe testing techniques, and provides a useful qualification for your future medical career. When you volunteer in Kenya, you’ll also spend a day at an IDP (Internally Displaced Persons) camp, assisting with medical outreach work, distributing supplies, or helping with the building and maintenance of ongoing construction projects. Costs start at £590 for one week. Learn more and apply here.
Cross-Cultural Solutions, founded in 1995, is celebrating more than 20 years placing volunteers and interns on programs in Latin America, Africa, Europe and Asia. A world leader in the field of international volunteering, Cross-Cultural Solutions’ programs focus on child development, girls’ and women’s empowerment, and global health. CCS is recognized as an important leader in volunteer services with more than two million volunteer hours served and 35,000 alumni, and in 2003, it received Special Consultative status by the United Nations.
Cross-Cultural Solutions offers an excellent Global Health volunteer program in Tanzania that helps vulnerable people build better, healthier futures. This includes assisting in public health projects that aim to tackle the country’s biggest health issues, including the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Issues impacting the people of Tanzania include HIV/AIDS, lack of resources, poor nutrition, and high levels of infant and child mortality.
Through outreach, you’ll provide education, care, and much-needed support to women and children in low-income communities. You’ll also have an opportunity to participate in public health projects, including vision screening for children, oral health campaigns and the promotion of hygiene in schools. You’ll stay in a CCS home base in a safe neighborhood, with a health center, an internet cafe, post office and market nearby. Program duration and fees start at one week for $2,250 – learn more and apply here.
Join Cross-Cultural Solutions as a Global Health volunteer in Dharamsala, India, support the education of vulnerable children and girls, and help deliver public health campaigns. As a volunteer, you will work with marginalized groups in India, including people living with HIV, castes, women, the transgender community, migrants, and tribal and rural populations. In the mountainside perch of Dharamsala, you’ll meet two distinct neighborhoods: Upper Dharamsala, home of the Tibetan community and exiled government, which enjoys easy access to resources and services; and then Lower Dharamsala, where you’ll find a community that lacks many of the most basic social services, and is in dire need of international support.
As a global health volunteer, you’ll work in the lower section with other initiatives supporting children’s education and women’s rights. Your contribution will focus on public health projects that support dental health education, sanitation programs, and vision screenings. Durations begin at one week, and program fees start at $2,624. Begin your application here.
With more than 20,000 volunteers placed on meaningful programs overseas since 2009 – and 4,000 just in the past year – Love Volunteers is one of the fastest growing volunteer organizations in the world. Programs are affordably-priced, starting from only $309 for your first week abroad while volunteering on a medical program, depending on where you travel. Right now, Love Volunteers works in 34 countries worldwide, with more than 120 different projects to choose from.
As a HIV/AIDS Volunteer in Nairobi, Kenya with Love Volunteers, you’ll play a role in delivering essential services and educating children and adults on HIV/AIDS to reduce the infection rate. Health workers in Kenya are under great pressure, given the increase in those affected by the disease. As a volunteer, you will visit target communities, including the slums of Nairobi, with the purpose of delivering vital supplies of food, medicine, as well as providing basic medical care. Volunteers help reduce the spread of HIV by raising awareness and promoting access to medical care. They also foster compassion in the community and give emotional support and a sense of hope to families in need. Your schedule is flexible, and you’ll generally work four to six hours per day. Program durations start at four weeks for a fee of $1,009 – learn more and apply here.
Another program offered by Love Volunteers brings you to Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, where you will have a profound effect on children living with HIV/AIDS, or who have been orphaned by the pandemic. Many of the hardships these children experience – including discrimination – can be alleviated by your compassion and help. You’ll assist with the day-to-day operations, you’ll network with program staff and NGOs, and help facilitate educational programs.
The goals of the project are to improve the future of the children with education and health care opportunities, and to create a better understanding of the African culture and value system. These projects reach children and youth through school-based clubs and out-of-school sporting activities, with soccer being the most important sport. You are invited to stay for one week or longer, starting at $439 – learn more and apply here.
Global Vision International currently has seven health care volunteer programs that aim to tackle a variety of health issues, including HIV/AIDS awareness, support, and treatment. Locations include Thailand, South Africa, Nepal, India, and Mexico.
Frontier’s volunteer program in Malawi lets you directly work to fight the devastating effects of HIV/AIDS. A couple of different ways you’ll help include supporting children who have been orphaned because of HIV, and assisting with awareness initiatives.
General Medical Volunteer Programs
If you’re looking for other ways to volunteer with medical and health care projects, Global Leadership Adventures has great opportunities in the Dominican Republic, Ghana, and Bali, each of which includes the chance to assist in HIV/AIDS clinics (though you may want to make sure it’s on the schedule first).
Volunteering Journeys also has four volunteer programs designed for aspiring medical professionals to gain valuable experience – you can travel to Sri Lanka, India, Nepal, and Cambodia, and as part of your placement, you will be able to care for HIV/AIDS patients.
Ready to Travel?
Looking for more inspiration? Take a look at these articles to learn more about volunteering abroad: