Matching HIV Status

In theory, having the same HIV status as your sexual partner (negative with negative, or positive with positive) shouldn’t involve a risk of HIV transmission. Some people use this approach with casual hook-ups and some people use it in long term relationships. However, it doesn’t always work.

Mostly, things go wrong when people just assume that they’re still negative when they haven’t been tested recently.

There is still a risk when matching your HIV status, as there is always the chance that you don’t accurately know your own, or your partner’s status. 

If you’re considering using this strategy to prevent HIV you need to ask yourself and your partner these questions:

  • Were you or your partner tested for HIV recently? Did you get the results of the test? Were the results negative?
  • Did you or your partner have unprotected anal or vaginal sex with anyone else after you last tested negative or during the three month window period prior to the test? 
  • When was the last time you or your partner tested for STIs? If you had any STI, were you or your partner treated?

Risks and considerations 

  • One in five Kiwis who have HIV do not yet know they have it.
  • Matching your HIV status does not provide protection from any other STIs like syphilis, gonorrhoea, LGV or Hepatitis C. These STIs are on the rise among gay and bisexual men in New Zealand, including men living with HIV, and can increase the risk of contracting and passing on HIV.
  • Using condoms is habitual. If you get out of the habit of using condoms with your partner, will you be able to start using them again if having sex with someone else?
  • Evidence shows that half of boyfriend relationships for gay and bisexual men are not monogamous. Since condom use is a habit, if you are not using them in your relationship it may be harder to use them during sex outside the relationship or if you become single again.
  • If you and your partner are both HIV positive there is the risk that you can become infected with another strain of HIV which can compromise your treatment and health.

If you or your partner have had unprotected anal or vaginal sex with other people and have not had an HIV rapid test in the last month, then matching HIV status isn’t a good option. If either you or your partner has fucked other people without condoms since the last HIV negative test, then using this approach is also not a good idea, and you should get tested now.

Using condoms and lube for anal and vaginal sex is the most effective way to prevent sexual transmission of HIV as well as other STIs.

Got questions about matching HIV status? We're here to help so send us your question and we'll get back to you.