Q and A


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.


Thanks for your question as your situation is very common.

Has your partner’s  positive HIV test been 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 second test (called “western blot”) is positive then your partner is definitely positive. In this case, how is your partner doing and does she have support?

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 bot been using condoms. 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. Condoms or PrEP are both really effective at stopping HIV and not sharing needles.

Also, after your partner gets an undetectable viral load on treatment, the risk drops to zero – even without condoms. The PARTNER study reported no transmission with an undetectable viral load. this was after about 900 couple had sex 58,000 without condoms (over several years).

Note: This answer was updated in January 2018 and October 2014 from a question from June 2011. i-Base no longer answers individual questions about HIV transmission and risk. (See: Question 1, 5, 6 and 9 at this link).


  1. Lisa Thorley

    Hi Reratilwe,

    Please see the above post.

  2. Reratilwe

    My hasband is positive and on arv I did a finger prick test and was negative is it possible that I can be positive we sometimes have in protected sex

  3. Simon Collins

    Hi Sibusiso, your summary is pretty good. Risks are different for different people and different activity. Thi guide has lots more info, including the role of viral load on risk.
    Men are infected in a slightly different way though from vaginal sex. This is because the head of the penis is a mucous membrane rather than skin. This is easier for the virus to get through – so it isn’t really small cuts then enable transmission. This page from the above guide explains this in terms of different cells.

  4. Sibusiso

    This just happened to me. My girlfriend got tested yesterday 22 June 2017 and her results are positive. I got tested today and I’m negative. I’ve been reading up a lot about the contradiction of HIV and found that, chances of infection differ by gender. Women tend to be a lot more prone to contracting the virus if they engage in unprotected sex with a man who has it. This is mainly because the virus lives in manier body aspects of a man from his sperm, pre-cum, bodily fluids and so on. This then means if an HIV positive man has unprotected sex with a negative woman, her chances sky rocket. With regards to men, especially us who are circumcised, contracting the virus is that much harder because women hardly produce any bodily/ vaginal fluids that contain the virus and when circumcised, cuts on the penis are less likely in comparison to a man who isn’t circumcised. Cuts on the foreskin are largely responsible for transferring the virus from a woman to a man and the foreskin also has the prospect to harbor the virus inside to a point where it can penetrate even after intercourse… according to what I’ve read

  5. Lisa Thorley

    Hi Maximore

    I’m very sorry for your loss.

    Even if you’re wife was positive, its still very possible that you were never infected. This is because contracting HIV is basically a case of bad luck. For more info please see Q5 here:


  6. Maximore

    My wife died from HIV on June 4th. We’ve been together for 5 years. I’ve always tested negative. Am I OK?

  7. Lisa Thorley

    Hi Slindile,

    If you were having sex with your partner before he was on meds, or before his viral load became undetectable, (that is if it is) then yes, there is a possibility that you may be positive. Therefore, for your own health you need to test.

  8. Slindile

    My partner tested positive and taking ARV’s . I haven’t get tested. I’m too scared. What is the risk?

  9. Lisa Thorley

    Hi Obioma,

    If your girlfriends viral load is undetectable, the risk of transmission is close to zero. Please see here for more info:


    If however you are worried, you should test.

  10. obioma

    I just entered into a relationship with a girl not long ago. few weeks after our date we had sex three times without protection. Not long before she told me she was HIV positive. Her CD4 count is 1200 but I don’t know of her viral load. She said she has been on her medications and that I shouldn’t worry. Am I OK?