The public health system that guarantees full, universal and free access for the entire population of the country, including refugees and asylum seekers. SUS services range from basic procedures to the most complex, urgency and emergency services, hospital care, pharmaceutical assistance, among others. It is possible to find public hospitals and Basic Health Units (UBS) in all Brazilian states. For information on how to use SUS, access the Connect SUS platform.

What should I do if I get sick?

Asylum-seekers and refugees have the right to access public health services, so it is not necessary to contact UNHCR or a partner organization to seek medical assistance.

At the Basic Health Units (UBS), you can see a general practitioner. If necessary, the doctor can refer you to a specialist.

Take your Provisional Protocol or National Migratory Registry Card (formerly the National Foreigner Registry – RNE) and CPF when you go to a UBS for the first time. You will receive a SUS card.  This document contains all medical information about its holder and provides access to appointments and exams. You must carry your SUS card every time you seek medical assistance.

In case of urgency or emergency, go to:

  • Emergency Care Unit (UPA): these units offer basic medical assistance 24 hours a day, every day.
  • Hospitals and Emergency Units (ER): some of these units are open 24 hours a day, every day. These units provide medical care for more complex cases, including hospitalization.
  • Call an ambulance, dial 192.

Look for the medical centers closest to your residence at CONECTE SUS.

Will I have to pay for the medicine the doctor prescribes for me?

It is possible to have access to several free medicines at the SUS health center where you are consulted. To obtain the medicine for free, it is necessary to present the medical prescription, the SUS card and an identity document.

There are pharmacy programs that also distribute medicine for free or at a reduced price:

Finally, if the prescribed medicine is not available in the SUS or in the pharmacy programs described above, contact a UNHCR partner. The partner will evaluate the possibility of social assistance.

What medical precautions should I take in Brazil?

You are residing in a tropical country with a hot and humid climate. It is very important that you take certain precautions. First of all, you should drink lots of water every day, and also make sure the kids stay hydrated. In recent years, Brazil has experienced epidemics of two mosquito-borne diseases, Dengue and Zika. It is very important to remember the following information and observe government instructions on preventing and fighting these diseases.

For more information, consult the website of the Brazilian Ministry of Health:


In Brazil, parents have an obligation to vaccinate their children. The children of asylum seekers and refugees can obtain vaccines free of charge at public health centers. The National Immunization Program (PNI) offers the public all vaccines recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) in the National Vaccination Calendar.

For more information, consult the website of the Brazilian Ministry of Health:  National Immunization Program (Vaccination Calendar).


What is HIV?

HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus. If left untreated, HIV can lead to AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome).

Unlike some other viruses, the human body cannot completely rid itself of HIV. So once you have HIV, you have it for life.

What is AIDS?

AIDS stands for Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome. AIDS is the final stage of HIV infection, not all people with HIV progress to this stage.

AIDS is the stage of infection that occurs when your immune system is severely damaged and you become vulnerable to opportunistic infections. Infections associated with severe immunodeficiency are known as “opportunistic infections” because they take advantage of a weakened immune system.

How is HIV transmitted?

HIV is usually transmitted by:

  • Unprotected sex (vaginal, anal or oral) (without using a condom) with a person living with HIV who is not on treatment;
  • Contaminated needles and syringes;
  • From mother to child during pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding.

HIV is not transmitted by:

  • air or water
  • Mosquitoes, ticks or other insects
  • Saliva, tears, or sweat that is not mixed with the blood of an HIV-positive person
  • Shaking hands, hugging, using restrooms, drinking cups or cutlery, or kissing
  • drinking fountains
  • Other sexual activities that do not involve exchanging bodily fluids (e.g., touching)

How can I know if I am living with HIV?

The only way to know if you are living with HIV is to get tested. Everyone should be tested for HIV at least once. However, you should be specifically tested if:

  • Have an active sex life (if you’ve had sex with anyone since your last HIV test)
  • Have injected drugs or split needles
  • be pregnant

For more information on where to find an HIV testing center, please visit the Ministry of Health ‘s Department of STIs, AIDS and Viral Hepatitis website.

In case you test positive for HIV you should consult your doctor as soon as possible to start the treatment, which is free.

Where can I be tested for HIV/AIDS?

In Brazil, you can be tested for HIV/AIDS for free. The diagnosis of HIV infection is made through a blood test. The test is completely free and you have the right to do it anonymously.

Testing can be done in most Basic Health Units, in addition to anonymous testing centers, where they are available.

What is the benefit of HIV testing?

Knowing your HIV status can have two important benefits:

  • If you discover that you are HIV positive, you can take the necessary steps to access treatment, care and support in order to prolong your life and prevent medical complications.
  • If you know you are living with HIV, you can take the necessary precautions to prevent passing HIV on to others, including your children. HIV-positive mothers have a 99% chance of having HIV-free children if they follow the recommended treatment during prenatal care, delivery and postpartum.

Therefore, if you have experienced any risky situations, such as unprotected sex or sharing needles, get tested!

Is it possible to have a normal life with HIV/AIDS?

Currently, there are drugs that allow people with HIV/AIDS to live a good life. These drugs are freely available in the Brazilian health system.