8 Tips for HIV-Positive Travelers to India
Flying into New Delhi during the recent H1N1 outbreak was a lesson in passenger profiling and body language. Passengers, including me, were required to complete a short form distributed on our flight. Upon entering Indira Gandhi International Airport customs hall we handed the form to a representative looking for any passengers displaying symptoms of sickness. This process had me curious what HIV-Positive travelers may encounter in India.
Good news for HIV+ travelers thinking of an Indian holiday. Currently there are no restrictions on entry to, or travel within, the country. Your HIV status is not asked during the Visa application process nor upon entry at Indian Customs.
However, foreign students entering with an Indian Visa must submit an “HIV test report from one of the WHO recognized institutions from people in the age group of 15 to 60 years, if the foreigner is visiting India on a visa for more than one year*”. This report is one of many documents required for registration with the Foreigner’s Registration Officer.
Tips for HIV-Positive Travelers to India
- Look healthy. Avoid common habits such as blowing your nose, itching, or coughing while passing through customs. Travelers who appear to be ill are likely to be targeted for in-depth questioning or inspections.
- Be discreet and polite. Don’t draw any undue attention to yourself that could cause customs officials to pull you aside. Remember that raising your voice, placing a hand on your hip, and pointing are all considered rude gestures that can be easily misinterpreted.
- Advertising the fact that you’re HIV-positive should be avoided. A red ribbon on your clothing maybe your normal routine, but in India, it’s best left at home.
- Keep any HIV medications in their original containers and don’t try to hide them. If a customs official suspects illegal substances upon entry, you may be detained.
- In case of travel delays, bring a few extra days or supplies and/or medicines.
- If you are taking injectable medications you must have the medication along with you in order to carry empty syringes.
- Bring a doctor’s certificate which states you are reliant on the medication packed, and that it has been prescribed by the doctor. Keep an extra copy for your carry on luggage along with a copy of your prescription(s) for easy reference.
- Consult your medical provider to discuss preventative immunizations and precautionary measures while traveling. Access to excellent medical help is available throughout India should a situation arise.