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Op-Ed

Concerns of a traveling poz

An HIV-positive Filipino wants to know about best practices when traveling long-haul, and Dr. Jose Narciso Melchor Sescon provides needed information on this.

Dr. Jose Narciso Melchor Sescon – president of the AIDS Society of the Philippines and current Chief of Clinics of Sta. Ana Hospital – answers all your HIV-related inquiries. For all your questions, email josescon1@gmail.com or info@outragemag.com.

Dear Doc,

I am a 28 year old HIV-positive person who always travels overseas. For short trips, I do not have issues; but I may have longer trips in the future, and I am starting to worry. I have a few questions:
1) Do I need to bring a prescription with me when I travel?
2) The ARV supply is good for a month and a half; if my trip is for longer than that, can I ask for more supplies?

Poz Traveler

In the Philippines, HIV and AIDS treatment hubs have their own specific guidelines to follow with regards to ARV medication administration, management and dispensing. The reason why most of the ARVs are given out on a monthly basis is for cost effective reasons. And that means the following:

  • Are you taking your medications regularly as prescribed?
  • Is your body responding well to the current ARV regimen?

With 30 to 45 days of supply of ARV medications, this could be easily switched and PLHIV be supplied with a new treatment (ARV regimen) if needed. But for those who have already been in ARV regimen therapy for months, and their therapy proving to have dramatic response (e.g. undetectable levels of viral load), ARV supply could be discussed with your HIV specialist, most especially if one is traveling overseas.

Yes, it is important to have your doctor’s prescriptions with you when you travel (in case you missed putting your medications in your check-in luggage and have it hand-carried) for immigration purposes. And of course, when you travel, please note that these medications may not be available in developed countries. Note that in the Philippines, most PLHIV are taking generic ARVs and not the popular commercially branded ARV medications. So this is best discussed with your HIV specialist for consideration.

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