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Jun 11, 1998

What is the phrase "barebacking" referred to? I have heard the phrase in t.v. shows, magazines, and newspapers and would like to know the definition of it. Thanks!

Response from Mr. Sowadsky

Hi. Thank you for your question. The term "barebacking" generally refers to Gay men engaging in unprotected anal intercourse, despite the risks for HIV and other STDs. Nicolas Sheon and Aaron Plant have written an online review article on barebacking, entitled Protease Dis-Inhibitors? The Gay Bareback Phenomenon. After reading this article, you may also want to read the following posts on this website that deal with issues related to barebacking.

Regarding Gay men having unprotected sex:

Studies of Gay Discordant Couples

90s seroconversion rates

Regarding HIV reinfection (re-exposure to HIV):


Regarding Post-Exposure Prophylaxis after Sexual Exposures to HIV:

Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) For Sexual Exposures

Barebacking is an extremely controversial and complicated issue, especially since it is dealing with human behavior. Not all Gay men engage in barebacking. Many Gay men use condoms every time they have anal sex with every partner. But some Gay men prefer to have unprotected anal sex and they are willing to take the risks. For some Gay men, the benefits of unprotected anal intercourse (intimacy, pleasure, etc.) outweigh the risks (HIV and other STDs). On the other hand, if two Gay men have unprotected anal intercourse, and neither of them is infected with HIV, nor any other STD, then barebacking would be completely safe as far as infectious diseases are concerned. But if either partner has HIV or another STD, then there are significant risks of infection for these diseases through barebacking. Future HIV and STD prevention efforts targeted toward the Gay community must incorporate the issue of barebacking.

If you have any further questions, please feel free to call the Centers for Disease Control at 1.800.232.4636 (Nationwide).

Are there any reported cases of getting HIV from receiving oral sex?
HIV rates in nevada legal sex workers (brothels)

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