Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

Bulletin of the World Health Organization


Geisel School of Medicine


Although human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection is a worldwide problem, its prevalence and pattern vary from country to country. Accordingly, the risk to international travellers of acquiring HIV infection also varies widely in different parts of the world, and depends principally on their behaviour. The risk of sexual acquisition of HIV infection can be virtually eliminated by avoiding penetrative sexual intercourse with intravenous drug users and persons who have had multiple sexual partners (such as prostitutes) or reduced by the use of condoms. The risk of parenteral exposure to HIV can be reduced by avoiding parenteral drug use and behaviour that is likely to lead to injury (with its attendant risk of requiring blood transfusion) and by seeking medical facilities with adequate capabilities to screen blood donors for HIV and to sterilize instruments. HIV screening of international travellers is an ineffective, costly, and impractical public health strategy for limiting the worldwide spread of HIV infection. Travellers infected with HIV require specialized advice regarding health precautions, prophylactic medications, and immunization.

Original Citation

von Reyn CF, Mann JM, Chin J. International travel and HIV infection. Bull World Health Organ. 1990;68(2):251-259.