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      Safe sex

      Latest update: - Authors: Mieke Croughs, Ula Maniewski

      Many travellers have unsafe sex with a new partner, even if they were not expecting to. Alcohol often plays a role. 

      Sexual transmittable diseases (STD) can cause symptoms, including blisters or ulcers in the genitals, abnormal discharge, pain when urinating or a generalised skin rash. Often there are no symptoms at all, particularly in the early stages.

      In case of close physical contact, like when having sex, scabies can be transmitted. 

      Risk areas

      Sexually transmitted diseases occur all over the world. Certain sexual transmittable diseases such as HIV, Hepatitis B and syphilis are more common in Africa, Asia, South America and Eastern Europe.

      Prevention

      Condoms

      It is sensible to take condoms with you if you are travelling without a partner, even if you are not expecting to have sex. This will ensure that you have access to reliable condoms if and when you need them. 

      • Check the expiry date. 
      • Check the quality label (CE logo). 
      • Store the condoms in a cool, dark place (away from sunlight and not in the car). 
      • Do not use oil-based lubricants (only water-based).

      Alcohol

      Do not drink too much alcohol. This increases the risk of unsafe sex.

      New partner

      Always use condoms during sexual contact with a new partner, including for oral sex. You cannot see whether a person is infected with a sexual transmittable disease and the other person can be infected without realising it. 

      Hepatitis B

      Consider vaccination against Hepatitis B.

      HIV PrEP

      If you might have sex with one or several partners

      • from a country with a higher risk for HIV
      • or with the same sex (MSM or trans)

      It is sometimes recommended to take HIV PrEP. Talk about it during your pretravel consultation, with your doctor or in an HIV reference centre.  

      Rape

      Take into consideration that the risk of being raped is higher in some countries.

      You've had unsafe sex?

      Get yourself tested, even if you do not have symptoms.

      Inform your partner to prevent transmission of an STD and use condoms until a possible STD has been treated or excluded.