Preparation is Key: Long-Term Travel as a HIV Positive Individual
Last updated: September 2023
For many, studying abroad is nothing short of a dream come true. However, for those of us living with HIV, this dream can be accompanied by a cocktail of concerns, particularly around managing our health and medication needs in a foreign land.
Let me assure you, preparation is the key, and it makes the impossible possible.
Recently, I was awarded an opportunity to study abroad, and I was filled with a mixture of excitement and anxiety. Being HIV positive, I knew I had some extra steps to prepare for this journey. If you're also preparing for such an adventure, let me share my experience and the steps I took to ensure I was fully equipped. Similar to studying abroad, these tips could help with long-term travel prep.
Do you plan to travel this year?
Health check-up and lab tests
Before anything else, I made an appointment with my doctor for a comprehensive health check-up. I did all the required lab tests to confirm that I was healthy enough to travel for weeks.
Remember to consider the importance of this step. It gives you and your healthcare provider a clear picture of your health before you embark on your journey.
The next vital step was sorting out my medication. I had a follow-up appointment after my lab tests at the pharmacy, where I was also informed about my insurance coverage. It allowed for an early prescription fill for the next month, specifically designed for travel, eliminating my worries about sourcing medication overseas.
Traveling can be unpredictable, and having a surplus of medication provides a safety buffer. Talk to your insurance company to see what they can do to give you extras or advance you a future prescription.
Additionally, keep all your prescriptions and doctor's notes handy and secure. Remember, different countries have distinct drug regulations. When you travel, these documents help prevent customs misunderstandings. Pack medication documents, along with your medication, in your carry-on bag so they are readily accessible and are never separated from you.
Do your homework
Research local pharmacies and hospitals at your destination before leaving. Knowing where to go for medical assistance can give you additional peace of mind. And if you're heading to a non-English speaking country, as I was, learning a few medical phrases in the local language will be helpful.
Before leaving, check if you need additional vaccinations for your destination country. Your healthcare provider will be able to guide you on this.
Check your home country's travel advice website for any health and safety updates in the country you're planning to study in. It's always better to know.
After all, being HIV positive does not define us - it's just a part of our journey.
Will you get a flu shot this year?