What is a mixed status couple?

When one partner is HIV-negative and the other HIV-positive. This is sometimes also known as a serodiscordant couple.

Using protection means that mixed status couples can have sex without transmitting HIV.

Lots of people worry that being diagnosed with HIV will mean they won’t be able to be in a relationship or have sex. This isn’t true.

Know Your Status

To know if you are in a mixed status relationship both partners need to know their status.

Some couples decide to go and get tested together.

Once you know your status you can make decisions together about how to stay healthy.

Sharing Your Status

Telling someone that you are living with HIV can be scary, but being open is key to a successful mixed status relationship.

  • Remember, it is up to you how and when you tell someone.
  • It helps to find a time when you won’t be interrupted.
  • Make sure they have all the facts.
  • They will be less likely to worry if they know more about treatment and prevention.
  • Remember, don’t take rejection personally, it can happen to anyone and is not a reflection on you.
  • Often sharing your status with your partner can make you feel closer.

Sex in a mixed status couple

There are now more ways for you and your partner to prevent HIV transmission. Make sure you talk about how you will protect each other.  You can combine as many of these methods as you want, so you both feel comfortable and in control.


  • Condoms are one of the best ways to prevent HIV transmission as well as other STIs and pregnancy.
  • Using lube reduces friction and helps to make sure that condoms don’t break.


  • If you are living with HIV, effective treatment can reduce your viral load to such low levels that HIV can no longer be detected in normal blood tests. This is known as an undetectable viral load.
  • If you have an undetectable viral load you are no longer able to pass HIV on through sex.
  • To make sure you are undetectable you need to have your viral load monitored with regular tests.


  • PrEP is an HIV prevention pill that, if taken properly, can virtually eliminate the risk of getting HIV.
  • It is recommended for the HIV-negative partner in mixed status couples.
  • However, PrEP isn’t available everywhere, so ask your healthcare provider to see if it is an option for you.

Tips for a great relationship

Feeling sexy

  • Sex can be an important part of relationships, but worrying about HIV might leave you feeling unsexy.
  • Some people find that their medication affects their mood or changes their appearance – making them feel less in the mood for sex.
  • Talking to your partner about how you feel can help you find ways to move through this together.

Relationships where you’re both positive

  • It’s still important to use condoms or treatment-as-prevention during sex – because you might have different strains of HIV.
  • This can cause problems if one strain of HIV is resistant to certain antiretroviral drugs, making it harder for you to find treatment that works.