If a person has HIV and knows it, or does not have HIV and knows it, this is called their HIV “status”. If someone asks a person’s HIV status, they want to know if the person is HIV positive or HIV negative.
Not all sex acts carry the same risk of getting HIV. It depends on a person’s HIV status, the kind of sex they have, how long the sex acts last, how much virus they are exposed to, and the health of the membranes lining the penis, vagina, rectum, and mouth. Unprotected anal sex is considered to be “high risk” for transmitting HIV no matter what position you take.
Sometimes people think they can guess a person’s HIV status based on their willingness to have unprotected anal sex, and their choice to be a top or bottom. These choices mean different things to different people. For this reason, it is really important to discuss your HIV status before you have any sexual activity. What is more important is using condoms to protect yourself and your partner(s), especially when you don’t know your – or their – HIV status. The third step is testing for STIs including HIV.
To find out what the law says about telling a new partner about your HIV status, visit:
For more information call the AIDS and Sexual Health InfoLine at 1-800-668-2437 (English and multilingual line) or 1-800-267-7432 (French line) or check out the Resources section of this site.