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HIV And Travel: Tips Before You Go

HIV and travel
If you’re planning a vacation as a person living with HIV, early planning will help you have an enjoyable trip. Usually, HIV might not prevent you from traveling. However, domestic and international travel require ahead of time preparations and planning

If you’re planning a vacation as a person living with HIV, early planning will help you have an enjoyable trip. Usually, HIV might not prevent you from traveling. However, domestic and international travel require ahead of time preparations and planning. Here we look at everything you need to know about HIV and travel.

HIV and Travel – How to Prepare

The following are some tips to help you plan and prepare for your vacation as a person living with HIV:

Ensure there are No Restrictions in the Country You’re Visiting

If you’re planning to visit a certain country as an individual with HIV, it’s best to research if there are any restrictions in your destination country. Some countries discriminate against persons living with HIV; hence, they restrict them from visiting them.

For instance, various countries have policies regarding individuals with HIV entering the country or staying for a short-term visit (90 days or less) or long-term visit (more than 90 days).

Fortunately, advocates worldwide are working to reduce and eliminate such discrimination against persons with HIV and are making progress.

As of 2018, 143 countries have no restriction for persons with HIV.

The following are some examples of recent progress:

  • Singapore is allowing short-term stays for persons with HIV
  • South Korea and Taiwan have terminated all existing restrictions
  • Canada now allowing people with HIV to obtain a residence permit

Before traveling, ensure you search an online database to determine whether a country has restrictions for visitors with HIV. You can also check with embassies and consulates for more information on the country you’re looking forward to traveling to.

Give Yourself Enough Time

Traveling when you have HIV may need extra planning and preparations. Ensure to book your trip some months before. This will allow you enough time to have an appointment with your healthcare provider, get possible vaccines, get medication, confirm your insurance, and pack everything you need for the trip.

HIV and Travel – How to Prepare

Pack the Required Pills

Forgetting to pack your toothbrush, soaks, or even a cell phone isn’t a big deal. You can replace them once you reach your destination. However, forgetting your HIV medication is a big deal. You can’t get along without your HIV medication, even for a day. Therefore, ensure that you carefully pack every pill related to HIV treatment.

Count enough pills for the days that you’ll be staying at your destination and put them in appropriate containers. You should pack extra backup HIV pills extra days just in case of travel delays.

While traveling by plane, ensure to carry your medication in their original containers marked with prescribing information to avoid too much trouble with the security. Additionally, you should only carry your medication in a carry-on bag. This is because the flight might delay during departing or arriving time, delaying your time to take your medication.

Plan an Appointment with Your Healthcare Provider

Before taking off your vacation, ensure you talk to your healthcare provider at least a month before. They will discuss your current status and how it might affect your travel plans. They might also run some blood tests to determine how well your immune system functions.

During this appointment, you should also:

  • Ask for a prescription for any needed drugs during your trip
  • Get information about required vaccines or medication needed before the trip
  • Get copies of all prescriptions you’ll be using during your trip
  • Be informed of any medical issue that might arise while you travel
  • Request a letter from your healthcare provider indicating the medication you’ll need during your trip since you might need to show the letter to the security during your travel
  • Discuss healthcare facilities at your destination that can assist you with medical care

HIV and Travel – How to Prepare

Get Necessary Vaccines

Traveling in certain countries requires getting certain vaccines or boosters. Ensure to consult your doctor before getting any vaccine or booster.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, persons with HIV without severe immunosuppression need to be vaccinated like other travelers. Individuals with HIV might require additional vaccines to prevent conditions such as measles if they have very low immunity.

Low CD4 T lymphocytes may interfere with how vaccines work. These vaccines may not be beneficial or may take longer to be effective depending on the CD4 T.

Due to this, you may be required to get a vaccine in advance or get an additional booster vaccine. Also, a low CD4 T lymphocyte can prevent you from receiving vaccinations, such as a vaccine for yellow fever.

Review Your Insurance and Purchase More If Needed

Ensure that your insurance plan covers any medical needs during your trip. If additional coverage is needed, make sure to purchase them for catering for your health while in a different country. Also, remember to bring your insurance card if you need medical care.

HIV and Travel – How to Prepare

Prepare for Your Destination

Traveling comes with certain risks for anyone, whether with HIV or without. You want to avoid contracting diseases and anything that can cause illness. Due to this reason, you may want to pack some items to avoid exposure.

If you’re traveling to a country prone to disease-causing insects, ensure to pack insect repellant and clothing that cover most parts of your skin.

You can also pack a towel or a blanket to use in parks or beaches and some covered shoes to prevent you from coming into contact with animal waste.

Additionally, ensure you have a hand sanitizer to keep germs at bay. You may also learn about which food to avoid in the country you’re traveling to.

Finally, avoid feeding on raw fruits and vegetables unless you peel them yourself, unprocessed dairy products, uncooked meat or seafood, or anything from street vendors. Also, avoid tap water at all costs, either drinking it directly or using ice made from it.

Conclusion

Even when living with HIV, you can still enjoy traveling. All you have to do is see your healthcare provider before the trip to discuss your medical issues that might interfere with your travel plans.

Make sure you prepare for vaccinations, insurance, enough medication, and proper equipment for a positive travel experience.

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