HIV infection is not a barrier to travel, as long as you are:
- currently attending a specialist clinic
- feeling well
- stable on HIV treatment
- not on HIV treatment but have a stable CD4 count (as determined by your specialist)
Some countries still have travel restrictions in place for HIV positive travellers. Restrictions may depend upon whether the purpose of your travel is short term as a tourist, or for residency or employment abroad. The rules can vary over time and the level of enforcement practiced by the countries can also change.
Before travelling abroad, check that there are no restrictions for HIV travellers at your destination. Further information, including other issues regarding travel are available from the following websites:
If you are HIV positive and lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) you should also be aware that cultural attitudes and laws regarding LBGT people vary significantly around the world.
- Further information is available on the LGBT traveller page
Ideally you should begin to plan your trip well in advance of the date you wish to travel. Consider all of the following points before booking your trip.
At least 8 weeks before you travel, you should seek a review by both:
- your specialist to ensure your health is optimised
- a travel medicine specialist for advice on reducing travel-associated risks, to determine if you need malaria prophylaxis and seek guidance on vaccinations you may need
- Check with your specialist or General Practitioner (GP) if you are unsure.
Vaccination is not the only way to reduce the risk of travel-related diseases. Read the information below on reducing your risk of travel-related health problems, particularly as some vaccines cannot be given to you, or your response to vaccines may be reduced.
Accidents and Injury
Consider accident prevention.
- Carefully plan your itinerary and activities; accidental injury or violence is a greater risk during travel than infections for all travellers.
Follow safe food and water precautions.
- This will help you reduce your risk of both vaccine-preventable and non-preventable infections, for example hepatitis A, or salmonella infection.
Respiratory Tract Infections
- This reduces your risk of catching respiratory infections, including COVID-19.
Infections from insect bites
Follow insect bite avoidance precautions.
- This is the best way to reduce the risk of infection from insect bites. Vaccines do not exist against the majority of these infections.
Consider if you are at risk of malaria.
You are not at any higher risk of acquiring malaria because you are HIV positive, but the consequences of becoming infected may be more severe. If you are travelling to a country where malaria is present:
- be aware of the risk of infection
- practise mosquito bite avoidance measures
- take antimalarial tablets if they are recommended
- always check with your travel advisor or specialist that any antimalarial drugs prescribed do not interfere with your routine HIV medications
Be aware of sun safety.
- Having a reduced immune system can lead to increased risk of tumours, including those of the skin.
Injuries to the skin and minor skin infections are common in all travellers.
- Make sure you are familiar how to carry out simple first aid.
Travel vaccine recommendations for HIV positive travellers are similar to those for HIV negative travellers. However you should be aware that:
- some vaccines may not be given if you have a low CD4 count, for example yellow fever vaccine
- this should be assessed and discussed with you at a travel consultation
- if your CD4 count is low, your protection from vaccination may be reduced, or take longer to develop and may not last as long
- you may require additional boosters
- vaccination does not guarantee you protection; you should still follow all of the additional advice on reducing your risk of infection
Find out before you travel how to access reliable medical care during your trip.
Ensure you have appropriate travel insurance which covers medical evacuation and repatriation.
- You must declare your HIV status to your travel insurance company.
- HIV specialist insurers are available and can be found online.
Read information on travelling with medicines before your trip:
- most HIV positive travellers will be on regular HIV medications, and may also be on medications prescribed by your GP
- consider carrying a letter from your specialist listing all of your medications, including the doses
- this can help you when passing through customs, and also if you need to replace any medication or seek medical attention during your trip