HIV and AIDs
Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is present worldwide. It is caused by the virus known as Human Immuno-deficiency Virus (HIV). There is not a vaccine or cure for either, and people with HIV remain infected all their lives.
HIV/ AIDS can be contracted through:
- unprotected sex with an infected person, who may not know they are infected
- the use of infected syringes, medical and dental instruments or anything else that punctures the skin, such as tattooing needles
- transfusions of HIV infected blood
- passing from an infected mother to her baby during pregnancy, childbirth or breast-feeding.
It cannot be passed on through everyday social contact, insect bites or dirty food and crockery. Nor can it be passed on through kissing, coughing and sneezing.
Protecting yourself against HIV/AIDS
- ensure you use condoms with new sexual partners. It is advisable to pack your own as standards may differ from those in the UK or they may not readily be available
- don’t share needles and syringes
- be aware that some countries do not have the same medical standards as the UK. Equipment may not be adequately sterilised, nor blood screened for HIV and hepatitis B or C
- if you require self-administered injections, take an adequate supply of your own needles
- don’t have a tattoo, acupuncture treatment or body piercing unless you can be sure the equipment is sterile.
Some countries have introduced HIV antibody testing for some visitors, or require an HIV antibody test certificate. Check with the relevant Embassy (see right for a search facility) before you travel.
If you need to take HIV/ AIDS related medications with you, check it’s legal in the country you’re visiting. It’s best to pack it in your hand luggage and take a letter from your GP with you.
The relevant embassy and your local GP will provide you with more information.