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Travel Tips for People Living With HIV

December 5, 2014

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Adjust your Dosing Schedule

Adjust your dosing schedule according to the number of time zones you cross. This sounds tricky, but it is actually quite simple.

West to East

As you travel from west to east, take the next dose of your HIV drugs one hour earlier than you usually do. If you fly from Los Angeles to New York, for example, you cross three time zones and after three slightly shorter dosing cycles you will be back on your normal schedule.

East to West

When you travel from east to west, you reverse this process -- adding an hour between dosing cycles. If you fly from London to Boston, for example, you cross five time zones and after five slightly longer dosing cycles you will be back on your normal schedule.

Taking your doses an hour earlier, or an hour later than usual falls well within the approved range for adherence to any dosing regimen.

North to South or South to North

When you travel north to south (or vice versa), there is no need to make any adjustments. Just stick to your regular dosing schedule, even on an 11-hour flight from the U.S. to Argentina.

Traveling Outside the Country

Do a little research about your destination. If you are going to another country, check if there are restrictions about HIV+ visitors or traveling with medications. You can find out about different countries' travel bans here. You may also want to take a set of written prescriptions.

If you travel to developing countries, you may be at a greater risk of getting cryptosporidiosis (an infection caused by a parasite; also an opportunistic infection>) from contaminated food and water. The following are more likely to be contaminated in developing countries:

  • raw fruits and vegetables
  • tap water or ice made from tap water (it is best to drink filtered or boiled water)
  • unpasteurized milk or dairy products
  • items purchased from street vendors

It is important that you talk with your health care provider about other precautions you may want to take when you travel abroad, especially in developing countries (i.e. getting vaccines, bringing antibiotics). Often, getting vaccinated for hepatitis A is a good idea, if you have not been already. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has a list of recommended immunizations for HIV+ adults that you can look at here. You may also want to check the World Health Organization's International Travel and Health page or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) travel website for useful information.


It can be relatively easy to stick to your daily schedule of pill-taking when you are at home. You are in your usual place, your pills are in their usual place, and your routine is a familiar one. It can be harder to stick to your daily schedule of HIV drugs when you travel, especially when you travel to an unfamiliar destination.

To make sure you do not miss any of your doses or leave your HIV drugs behind, it helps to travel with brightly colored Post-It or sticky notes. Put them on the bathroom mirror, on the dresser top, on your suitcase, on your car keys, on your hotel or motel room key. Those flashes of bright color will remind you to take every dose of every one of your medications every day and they will remind you to take your pills with you when you leave.

If bright colors or sticky notes do not work for you, plan ahead and find what does. Perhaps your mobile phone can be set to alert you when you should take your pills. Or perhaps you can get a friend to help you remember, whether she is traveling with you or calling you from back home. The important thing is not what form the reminders take -- only that they are effective and you take your HIV drugs on time.

Taking Care of Yourself

While planning ahead how you will stick to your regimen may seem like a hassle, it will make it easier when you are on the road. Good planning before you travel can help you relax and enjoy your trip. Even if you are on vacation, your HIV drugs still need to keep working! - so, do not leave home without them!

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This article was provided by The Well Project. Visit The Well Project's Web site to learn more about their resources and initiatives for women living with HIV. The Well Project shares its content with to ensure all people have access to the highest quality treatment information available. The Well Project receives no advertising revenue from or the advertisers on this site. No advertiser on this site has any editorial input into The Well Project's content.

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