Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Don't Let HIV Dampen Your Wanderlust

Having HIV should not impose too many restrictions on your travel options, though you may need to do a little planning and research before you book your trip.
Global Database on HIV-specific travel and residence restrictions
There are some simple steps all HIV-positive tourists can take regardless of their destinations to minimize chances of undue customs delays or outright deportation:
* Look healthy. Travelers who appear to be ill are likely to be targeted for indepth questioning or inspections.
* Be discreet and polite.Don’t draw any undue attention to yourself that could cause customs officials to pull you aside.
* Don’t advertise the fact that you’re HIV-positive. It pains me to have to give that kind of advice, but you might not want to wear a PLWHA t-shirt.
* Keep your anti-HIV medications in their original bottles and do not attempt to hide the containers. If you’re hiding them customs officials may think they contain contraband and may hold you to verify that they are permitted into the country.Opening packages or taking pills out of their prescription bottles will delay your time in security.
*Pack extra medicine and supplies when traveling in case you are away from home longer than you expect or there are travel delays.
*If you are taking injectable medications (e.g., Fuzeon, insulin, testosterone) you must have the medication along with you in order to carry empty syringes.
*Depending on the circumstances it may be worthwhile taking along a doctor’s certificate (in English) which shows that the holder is reliant on the medication and that it has been prescribed by the doctor.Carry a copy of your prescriptions in your carry-on, purse, or wallet when you travel.
*You can ask and are entitled to a private screening to maintain your confidentiality. Show copies of your prescriptions and/or your medication bottles and if you have any problems ask to see a supervisor.
In general, the above points apply to entering countries with ambiguous or restrictive regulations: as long as the HIV positive status does not become known, there will be no serious problems for a tourist. However, if someone is suspected of being HIV positive or if the authorities have concrete reasons to believe they are, entry may be refused.
My philosophy on the whole issue is that it’s not an issue, so I don’t present it as one. And I’ve never had any problems over the years of extensive travel.

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