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RESPONSE TO TRAVELING TO FLORIDA 4-21
May 25, 2013

I just returned from a Cruise and didn't have any problems at all. I am on Atripla, Dapsone, Itraconazole, Gabapentin (and have a script for Loperamide that I take every now and again when Montezuma's revenge hits) and take a mult-vitamin and 2000 mg a day of Vitamin D and 1,000 mg of Vitamin C .....CD4 mid 200's and VRL <40 .....no issues either when I travel and I agree with a pill box or sometimes I take a cute little travel bag that fits in a carry-on just for medications. :)I would to say to your readers and followers: Don't let being positive keep you from enjoying the wonders of travel!!!

Response from Mr. Vergel

When I travel overseas, I carry my original medication prescription bottles. I do not want to end up in some weird foreign detention center accused of being a drug dealer. I also pack an empty small pill box and baggies if I am staying in a country for more than just 2-3 days. When I have injectable medications, I also carry a copy of a letter from my physician that says "Nelson Vergel is under my care for HIV. All the medications and supplements in his possession are needed for his health and survival. Please do not hesitate to call me at XXX if you need any additional information". In my 20 years of traveling over 4 times a month, I have only needed to show that letter once.

But like you, domestically I have never had a problem carrying my pill box (which has 20 compartments) full of medications even when they pull the box in random carry-on bag searches ahead of boarding (fortunately, these searches are now rare in most domestic flights).

Like many other long term survivors aging with HIV, I take vitamins, HIV meds, anti-diarrhea meds, antihistamines, antiacids, Cialis, and others in my pill box all over the US. Fortunately, many healthy HIV+ people take one pill once a day and may be a multivitamin, so it is easy for them to carry their prescription bottles.

However, having said that, I want to make sure that everyone understands that it is still a lot safer to pack all your medications with your name on the respective labels and supplement bottles. I just chose not to do it domestically since it would require an extra carry-on bag. I am also not fond of opening bottles twice a day. This issue was even more of a problem when I used to inject Fuzeon twice a day (each injection requires 2 bottles and two syringes).

In 3 instances, airport security personnel by the X ray machines have asked me what my pills are. I just say "THEY ARE AIDS DRUGS" loud enough and they get horribly embarrassed and want me to leave their presence right away. Being Latino and muscular also adds to racial profiling in my case. For instance, every time I go to Canada they send me to a special room to make sure I do not have steroids. I have to stand in line with many other foreigners that have been profiled. I have had nandrolone (an anabolic steroid) and testosterone (two DEA controlled medications) in the in their original prescription bottles and had to explain to them how these products are legally prescribed for HIV+ people. After showing them the letter from my doctor they have let me go but it was very inconvenient for me to wait for over 2 hours to go through this trouble. In one case, I missed my connecting flight.

Traveling for 25 years with pills and injectables can make someone like me very cocky and strange. Luckily, many of us develop useful skills to protect ourselves!

Nelson



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