Carrying your meds
If you are planning to travel abroad and you are on HIV treatment, you will need to think about how you are going to take your anti-HIV drugs with you.

Some countries don’t allow people with HIV into their country, and so if you are planning to travel to one of these countries anyway, there is the risk that if it is discovered that you have HIV on arrival in that country you could be refused entry and deported.

To reduce the risk of being caught out, you may be thinking about not carrying your pills in your hand luggage, apart from what you will need for the journey. You may decide to put the rest of the pills you need into your checked-in baggage which may be less likely to be searched. However, in a situation where there are flight delays, or where baggage goes missing, you would be left with no pills to take, potentially leaving you in a situation where you would have no choice but to miss a dose, or even doses, of your anti-HIV drugs. Missing doses of your anti-HIV drugs would allow HIV to start replicating faster and could possibly lead to you developing resistance to one or more of your drugs.

Another strategy for avoiding taking drugs through immigration control is to post your drugs to a friend in the country you are going to. Again, this can be problematic. If you didn’t post them in time to know they had arrived before you set off, and they were lost in the post, you would end up without your pills. There’s also the chance that your flight could be delayed or diverted to another airport in another city or even country. Depending on how long it took you to eventually reach your destination, you again could be without your pills for a time and could miss doses.

The best way to ensure that you won’t miss any doses because of being separated from your drugs is to keep all of the pills you’ll need for your whole trip in your hand luggage. Some men adopt a ‘belt and braces’ approach by packing double the amount of pills that they need, a full dose in their hand-luggage and another in their checked-in baggage, to ensure that whatever else may go wrong they’re unlikely not to have their medication with them.
It’s also a good idea to ensure that you carry a bottle of water with you at all times. This will be important if you need to take your pills and you have no other access to water.

Storing your meds
Most anti-HIV drugs these days do not need to be stored in a refrigerator to keep them from deteriorating. It’s unlikely that you’ll be taking an anti-HIV drug that needs refrigeration these days, but if you’re taking any liquid capsules, such as the old formulation of Kaletra, then you should dscuss this with your doctor before you travel, especially if you are heading to a hot country and won’t have access to a hotel fridge.

Time zone changes
If you are travelling across international time zones, you’ll need to think about how this will impact on the times of day you take your anti-HIV drugs. You could always keep to the times you normally take them in the UK, however this could mean that you’d be taking them at unusual times of the day. For instance, if you normally take a dose at 9am in the UK and you travel to Mexico which is 5 hours behind the UK, you’d need to wake up at 4am to take your meds.

You could instead gradually alter the time you take your pills, maybe by two hours each day. So, using the Mexico example, on the day you travel you could take your meds at 11am UK time instead of 9am. Then the second day you could take them at 1pm UK time, and finally 2pm UK time on the third day. This would mean that you would now be taking your meds at 9am Mexico time. When you return to the UK, you’d just reverse the process.

It’s probably a good idea to discuss this with your HIV doctor before you travel. He or she will be able to talk you through the best way to manage the change in time zone and taking your anti-HIV drugs.

Local laws and banned substances
If you are taking any other medications abroad with you, it’s vital that you check the local laws about banned substances before you set off. Some common over-the-counter medicines sold in the UK, such as codeine, and some prescribed drugs are actually controlled substances in some countries. Always take an original copy of a prescription for any drugs you are taking with you and carefully check a country’s drug laws before you go if you are unsure.