2 items tagged "medication"

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Your treatment

The combination therapy
There are no medications that can cure you of HIV and it is not likely that there will be any such medications in themedicijnen coming ten years. But with the medicines that are now available, you can suppress the virus for the rest of your life. Because you will be using a combination of medicines, the treatment is referred to as the combination therapy. The combination therapy usually consists of three different HIV medications. It could be that you will take less than three pills, since one pill can contain more than one active ingredient. The combination therapy involves taking one to six pills, once or twice a day. That will not be a temporary treatment, but one that you will have to continue for the rest of your life. Since the HIV medications will suppress the virus, your immune system will grow stronger. You can grow old with HIV, but it is very important that you take your medicines every day.

Your travels

What do you need to think about if you plan to travel abroad for a holiday, to visit your family or for your work?

Being abroad without HIV medication
You might worry about what you should do if you suddenly find yourself without your HIV medications when you are abroad. If you arrange things properly before you go, you can enjoy a carefree trip. Make sure you have travelreizen insurance that gives you medical coverage or supplement your current health insurance to include coverage while abroad. If you travel outside of Europe, check to make sure your insurance will give you worldwide coverage. If you find yourself abroad without your medicines, make sure you get your HIV medications as quickly as possible, preferably before it is time for you to take your pills again. It is almost always quicker to get HIV medications in the country where you are at that moment, than to have medicines sent to you from the Netherlands. The emergency telephone operators of your insurance company are available seven days a week, 24 hours a day, and they can arrange to have a prescription sent from your own hospital or find out for you where you can get your HIV medications in the country you are in.

Different time zones
When exactly should you take your HIV medications if you travel to a different time zone? Often it is most convenient to stick to the same pill- taking times that you have in the Netherlands, but then in the local time. If there is only a one or two- hour time difference, you can switch to the local time in one go. If there is a greater time difference, you had better adjust your pill time in a couple of larger steps. It is best to discuss the adjustment of your pill-taking schedule with your HIV nurse or internist before you go.

Keep these three things in mind:

  • Don’t make too many small adjustments, since you might lose count.
  • Don’t allow too much time between your pill- taking moments, since you will run a risk of developing resistance to the medicine.
  • Don’t allow too little time between your pill- taking moments, since you will run a risk of extra side effects.

Travel restrictions
Whether you like it or not, you are not allowed to enter certain countries if you have HIV. In a number of other countries, people with HIV can visit as tourists, but they will not be allowed to settle there permanently. There are no travel restrictions for citizens of the European Union when travelling to other EU countries. You can find a recent overview of the countries with entry restrictions for people with HIV on hivtravel.org.

Vaccinations and antimalarial medicines
To visit some countries, you will need to be vaccinated in advance and/or you will need to take antimalarial medications. If you have fewer than 350 CD4 cells in your blood, you are advised against having some vaccinations, but there are usually alternatives. You can discuss this with your HIV nurse or you can call the National Coordination Centre for Travellers’ Health Advice (LCR) at 0900- 9584 (cost: 45 cents a minute).

I’m going on a trip and I’m going to take along with me…

  • HIV medications and any other medicines that you use. Take some more with you than you will actually need for the period that you will be travelling. Otherwise you could have a problem if you come back later, for example, or if you lose your pills or have to vomit. If you are going to fly, take double the amount of your HIV medications than you need: put them both in your carry-on bag and in your checked baggage. That way you will never be without your pills.
  • An overview of the generic name of the medicines you use and the doses. The brand names will not always be enough, since some medicines have different brand names in some countries. The substance efavirenz is sold in the Netherlands as Stocrin, but in some other countries it is sold as Sustiva, for example. If a medicine has the same generic name, the active ingredient will be exactly the same, so you can go ahead and use it. You can get such an overview at your pharmacy.
  • A statement from your internist, which you can request via your HIV nurse. This statement will say, in English, that you need to take medication for medical reasons and that this medicine is strictly for personal use. Some internists will write a statement that says nothing about HIV or HIV medications; other internists will include the names of the medicines, but not mention that it concerns HIV.
  • The emergency telephone number of your insurance company and the telephone number of your hospital.
  • Every hospital has an internist that is available for telephone consultations in emergencies, 24 hours a day.
  • Loperamide (with brand names such as Imodium and Diacure) against travellers’ diarrhoea. This is available at your pharmacy or chemist without a prescription.
  • Condoms and lube (since those are not always available everywhere).

Cook it, peel it or forget it
If your immune system is weak, it is better to avoid eating salads and fruit that has already been peeled when you are abroad.


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