Sexual Health and Safety

COVID-19 Response: Learn how PittGEO is working under the current operating postures. Read More...

While studying abroad, you may receive mixed messages about sexuality.  Be aware of the messages you are receiving and have enough self-respect to take care of yourself.  Remember that sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are everywhere around the world, and only your behavior can prevent you from acquiring these diseases.  Specifically, students studying abroad should be aware of condom quality, HIV antibody testing, clean blood supplies, sterile needles, and medical facilities in the target country.

Condoms and Emergency Contraception Caution

Condoms can be difficult to acquire in some parts of the world.  In addition, the ones you do find may be of lesser quality than the ones to which you are accustomed.  Take responsibility for yourself.  The best prevention is abstinence.  Remember that STIs can be transmitted through various sexual acts, including sexual activity involving condoms and other preventative measures.  You may, however, want to bring condoms with you, even if you are not planning on being sexually active while abroad. Female students may also want to consider bringing a dose of emergency contraception, as this is often not readily available abroad and illegal to dispense in many majority Catholic countries, i.e. Ireland, Spain, Argentina.

HIV Antibody Testing Requirements

Some countries screen incoming travelers (especially those on extended visits and students) and prohibit entry of those with AIDS and those who have tested positive with HIV.  Any country may reserve the right to require HIV testing from any visitor.  Make sure you are aware of each country's policy to which you will be traveling.  This information is available from the consular officers of individual countries or by calling 202-647-1488, which is the U.S. State Dept. Office of Public Affairs.

The U. S. State Department’s website for travelers,,  has more information on HIV/AIDS screening for each country.

If You Think You May Have Been Infected with HIV

Knowing your status will help you in planning your trip.  While pre- and post -counseling are required for persons being tested in the US, this is not true of many countries.  Therefore, you may consider being tested before leaving the country.  Special medical facilities may be needed and this is information you should seek out before you begin the program.  Your program director can help you locate the medical facilities you need.  Free, confidential testing is available at the Allegheny County Health Center on Forbes Avenue.  The Student Health Center here at Pitt also performs HIV/AIDS testing and counseling as part of your Student Health Fee.

Additional Information

In addition to those already mentioned, the following hotlines are valuable sources of more detailed information: Center for Disease Control National AIDS Information -- 800-342-AIDS 

Safety First