Q and A

Question

How can my partner test HIV positive and I test HIV negative?

I went to test HIV with my partner.

I found out that she is positive and I was negative. After six months i went back I tested negative.

Please help as I don’t understand.

Answer

First, your partner needs to check whether the positive HIV test was checked by a second test in a lab. All rapid tests, need a positive result to be confirmed. This is because of the small chance of a false-positive result.

If the confirmatory lab result (called “western blot”) is positive then your partner is postive. Vrial load tests will also check for HIV rather than an immune response, so sometimes can be used.

Even if your partner is HIV positive, it is common for one person in a couple to test positive and the other negative. This can happen even if they have been having unprotected sex.

This is mostly just luck. Over time, most people will catch HIV if they continue to have sex without a condom.

Even though you have not caught HIV so far, you can still catch HIV in the future. Genetics may explain some cases of protection, but most are just down to luck and chance.

Now you know your partners HIV status, you can still stay together and have sex safely. You can prevent infection by using condoms when having sex and not sharing needles or blood products with your partner.

The risk of transmission will also drops dramatically if and when your partner uses HIV treatment. The PARTNER study reported that HIV is very difficult to catch if their partner has an undetectable viral load.

Note: This answer from June 2011 was updated in October 2014.


Information on this website is provided by treatment advocates and offered as a guide only. Decisions about your treatment should always be taken in consultation with your doctor.

296 comments

  1. john

    I’ve had sex with 30 women, will I get HIV?

  2. Lisa Thorley

    Hi Nation,

    Please see the above post.

    Also if your partner is on medication and has an undetectable viral load, then the risk of transmission is close to zero. Please see the results of the PARTNER study for more info:

    http://i-base.info/qa-on-the-partner-study/

  3. Nation

    I’ve been dating my partner now for 2 years. She’s positive, I’m negative. How is this possible?

  4. Lisa Thorley

    Hi Local,

    If the guy you had sex with has an undetectable viral load the risk is close to zero. Please see the results of the PARTNER study for more info:

    http://i-base.info/qa-on-the-partner-study/

    If his viral load is detectable, then yes you’re at risk.

  5. LOCAL

    Hi,
    I had sex with a HIV positive guy without using protection….am I at risk?

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