Planning for a long Vacation or Preparing for a Business trip? The travel preparation can sometimes be challenging for People Living with HIV (PLHIV).
Making sure there is enough medication. Making sure you get the correct travel vaccine or visiting the doctor to get prescription (just in case you might be questioned during immigration check)
Travel Tips For Travelling with HIV (B.R.A.V.E)
B for Board, Bottle
Carry Your HIV Medication with You on Board
Carry your HIV medications with you on Board rather than checking them in and have a memo from the prescribing doctor’s memo with you.
Carry Your Doctor’s Memo with You
The contents of the memo should confirm that the medication is necessary during the trip. It does not need to discuss HIV and can state the medications are for a chronic medical condition and for personal use.
Use Medication’s Original Packet or Bottle
It is also advisable to have the medication’s original packet/ Bottle, showing the name of the person carrying the medication and medication details.
R for Reveal, Reiterate
You Don’t Need to Discuss Your HIV Status!
When crossing international borders, one might be questioned on the medication carried. Preparing for these questions can facilitate an easier border crossing experience. HIV need not be discussed or Revealed and that these medications are for a chronic health problem can be Reiterated.
A for Adjust, Avoid, Anonymous Testing, Advice
Adjusting Your Dose Timing
Discuss with your doctor dose timing adjustments when travelling across different time zones. Medication can usually be taken one or two hours later for a number of days until the timing fits with the destination country. The process should be reversed on return.
Avoid Missing Your Medication Dose
Missing medication doses should be avoided at all cost. Treatment breaks should be avoided unless discussed with your doctor.
Advice, Anonymous testing
If you are travelling in and out of Singapore and need advice on HIV treatment or testing, At Dr. Tan & Partners, we provide a safe and discreet environment for testing. You can find out more about Anonymous HIV Testing.
V for Vaccinations
General principles for vaccination of PLHIV as follows:
- Killed or inactivated vaccines do not represent a danger to immunocompromised people and generally should be administered as recommended for other people.
- Live-virus or live-bacteria vaccines such as BCG, oral poliovirus, typhoid (Ty21a), varicella, Yellow fever should be avoided unless the benefits outweigh the cons
The main vaccinations we recommend for PLHIV besides the country-specific vaccinations are.
- HPV Vaccination
- Hepatitis A
- Hepatitis B
E for Extra Medication
Bring Extra Medication
It is imperative to bring enough medication and slightly more for a few days as getting a prescription or purchasing your medications in a foreign country may not always be possible. Furthermore, there is no way to ascertain whether the purchased medication might be of the same quality, type and efficacy.
If you are travelling with a partner/s who are not HIV positive, you can find out more information on getting PrEP (Pre Exposure Prophylaxis) for their protection as well – Non-HIV partners for HIV PrEP.
Here are some further resources you can explore to find out more about the country you are travelling to and its restrictions if any:
1.) www.aidsmap.com – HIV-related services worldwide and access country-specific information and news
2.) www.hivtravel.org – International database on HIV related travel and occupation
Safe Trip and Have Fun!
This article was written by Dr Tan & Partners, in collaboration with Oogachaga.