The importance of people with HIV getting medical advice before a trip to a tropical country is emphasised by a new study. The researchers tracked 264 HIV-positive people, all of whom were living in France and who travelled to an African country, most often their country of birth. All were taking HIV treatment and 94% had an undetectable viral load.
Travel-related health problems were quite common. Overall, 38% had an issue, either during the trip or in the months that followed. Half of those with a health problem sought medical care.
The most common health problems were diarrhoea and gastrointestinal complaints (26%), respiratory illnesses (18%) and malaria (15%). One woman died of malaria, which can be more severe if your CD4 cell count is low.
Health problems were more common in people who had not received medical advice about their journey than people who had. People whose viral load was low but not completely undetectable (above 50 copies/ml) were also at greater risk of health problems.
Medical advice before travelling can cover the vaccinations you need as well as preventive drugs against malaria. Doctors may also provide advice on food and water safety, avoiding insect bites and other issues, depending on which country you are going to.