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.

332 comments

  1. Lisa Thorley

    Hi Tammy,

    When someone is on medication and they have an undetectable viral load they can’t transmit HIV when having sexual intercourse. This is why you’re negative.

  2. Tammy

    I fell pregnant in December 2015. Started my anc checkeups and tested negetive in March april and july. After giving birth in August i continued to test every 3 months because i was breastfeeding. I found out when my baby was 6 months that my partner has been on treatment the whole time. What could cause my negetie results and is my baby at risk?

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