Make Your Trip Safe: A Guide For HIV Travelers
If you, like me, love to travel to faraway nooks and corners of the world, you’d be very familiar with the excitement the thought of a new visa stamp on your passport brings.
Why not be excited anyway? I mean traveling has a lot of perks! You get to explore new places, meet new people, learn interesting cultures and best of all, taste all the cuisines! Writing this makes me want to pack my bag and just set off for another adventure.
Sadly though, being an HIV traveler, traveling won’t be easy. Other than the usual adventurous attitude and a simple backpack for you to go on your voyage, HIV will require a number of pitstops before you leave along with a number of precautions while you are on your trip.
So what should your go-to ritual be for safe traveling with HIV?
Here is a list I have compiled for your ease:
1. Check Travel Restrictions
The first and foremost point to check off your list is checking the travel restrictions for the area you are an HIV traveler. There are couple of countries that still have either entry or residence restriction on people with HIV, while some have duration limits set for a visit. But hey, policies keep changing, so if you remember the list from a year back, chances are the policies won’t be the same anymore.
2. Visit Your Doctor
Meet up with your doctor 4-6 weeks before you actually intend on leaving. Why? The doctor will run some tests to see your viral loads, CD4 counts and then will provide you with a comprehensive guide on the dos and donts during your travel. It is quite possible that your doctor recommends a few vaccine shots, especially if you wish to explore an area where infectious diseases are prevalent. But hey, its all for your health.
3. Pack Your Medications
With HIV on board, your pills, aka Anti-Retroviral Therapy (or ART) will be your best friend. I can’t stress how important your medications are for your health. Let’s just say these pills are your means of survival – yes they are this important! So, before you even begin packing, put a load of pills in your bag.
Tips for packing your medications:
- If you are traveling with HIV medications, take the pills in original bottles so you don’t get in trouble at customs. Otherwise, take sturdy pill boxes or plastic zippers to keep your pills safe.
- Put your medications in your hand luggage, this way you’ll always have them on you and won’t miss any dose.
- Check for expiry dates before packing your medications!
4. Pack Snacks
If you are on ART, which you should be if you are HIV positive, you have to take some precautions even while taking your pills. Some pills can be taken on an empty stomach, while there are some that must be taken in combination with a meal or a snack, and all of them should be taken on their prescribed time. So let’s suppose you are on an airplane with no food and your reminder buzzing to take the pill that needs to be partnered with a meal or a snack? No, you can’t miss it either. So, HIV traveler to avoid such complications, your best bet is to pack some healthy snack with you. This also allows you to have healthy snacks as opposed to junk that you might opt for in the last moment.
That was all from the before the travel part. But precautions for an HIV traveler do not end here.
Once you reach your destination make sure to:
1. As An HIV Traveler, You Should Watch Your Diet
It’s a recommendation for HIV travelers that they should avoid foods that might expose them to disease-causing agents like viruses and bacteria. Some of the foods that an HIV traveler must avoid include:
- Tap water or ice made from tap water
- Unpasteurized dairy products
- Raw or undercooked meat
- Bottled drinks that haven’t been opened in front of you
- Street foods
2. As An HIV Traveler, You Should Take Necessary Precautions
It’s safe to say that traveling has a thrill of its own. And with the adrenaline rush that the thrill of traveling brings, you may often step out of your boundaries without thinking twice. Don’t forget that you have a very serious disease that demands you to take very strong precautions. Therefore, HIV travelers are advised to practice safe sex, take rest, eat healthily, drink loads of water and ease up on the alcohol!
That’s it, HIV travelers. Don’t let your disease stop you from exploring the world. As long as you plan and prepare for your trip you are going to stay safe and healthy!
For more information, take a course on HIV & AIDS at www.abudo.com