Why did my partner test positive when I tested negative?
My partner and I have been together for six years. He tested positive three years ago.
Automatically assuming I would be infected already we continued to have unsafe sex. I never went for a test until three years later in 2012.
He was beginning his treatment and wanted me to do the same, but when I went to my local clinic I tested HIV negative.
Can I trust these results or should I worry about testing HIV positive in near future? I’m so confused!
It is very common for someone to still be negative even if they have not been using condoms with someone who is HIV positive. HIV is quite a difficult virus to catch, so your negative result is also related to good luck.
As your partner has just started treatment, the risk of transmission will already be much lower. Then, once his viral load becomes undetectable the risk is effectively zero..
The PARTNER study showed that treatment dramatically reduces the chance of further sexual transmission. For example, after 58,000 times that an HIV positive person had sex without a condom with an HIV negative partner, there were ZERO transmissions. This needed viral load to be undetectable on treatment.
This and other studies led to the U=U campaign (undetectable = untransmittable).
This guide to HIV testing and risks of sexual transmission includes more info on transmission risk. Also, the answer to Question 9 on our most asked questions page:
Can we stop using condoms if viral load is undetectable on treatment?
If your partner in not on treatment or if he still has detectable viral load, then using condoms will make sure you stay negative. Another option is to talk to your doctor about PtRP, which is where you can take a pill that will protect you against HIV. The UK guide to PrEP has more info.
Note: This answer was updated in January 2018 and July 2016 from a question first posted online in July 2012.