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Barebacking, Unbridled: Thoughts From the HIV Community on Unprotected Sex

September 6, 2012

Barebacking, Unbridled: What Are the HIV Community's Thoughts on Unprotected Sex?

What do you feel when you hear the term "barebacking"? Anger at the stigma the word can imply? Relief that the topic is being discussed in an open forum? Frustration that anyone would choose to have unprotected sex in the age of HIV/AIDS? Curiosity about the reasons such choices are made?

No matter what your position on barebacking is, chances are excellent that one of TheBody.com's interviewees, bloggers or content partners has touched upon it. Check out this sampling of the range of perspectives on gay men and sexual risk that have been shared on our site.

Please also share your own opinions in the comments section below. We will post selections from these comments on TheBody.com in a future article.

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Why Do Men Bareback? No Easy Answers

Why Do Men Bareback? No Easy Answers

"There are abundant theories but no definitive answers about why gay men take sexual risks. After more than three decades of safer sex messages against the backdrop of gay men sickening horribly and then dying, new medical treatments have stemmed the tide of the pandemic and offered real hope for longer-term survival to people with HIV. Gay men want the AIDS epidemic to be over and want to be able to have sex without fear. They want to celebrate their desire without having to worry, negotiate, be fearful, or keep a shield of latex between themselves and their partners. Younger men want to experience pre-AIDS sex." -- Michael Shernoff

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Laying It Bare: Gay Men and Unprotected Sex in the Age of HIV/AIDS

Laying It Bare: Gay Men and Unprotected Sex in the Age of HIV/AIDS

"On one hand, you have 'barebacking' used very broadly to describe any unprotected anal intercourse. And usually it's used in the context of gay men. And then on the other side, you have 'barebacking' used to really identify those that identify themselves as folks that bareback, or identify as a particular group of people who identify as a subculture of barebackers." -- Rashad Burgess

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Does Watching Bareback Porn Increase Your HIV Risk?

Does Watching Bareback Porn Increase Your HIV Risk?

"In gay pornography, unprotected sex -- once stigmatized in the post-AIDS era -- is now a growing phenomenon. Websites blatantly market bareback scenes among Black men, and on several on-demand websites, bareback pornography is often rated most watched." -- Clarence A. Haynes

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The Hilarious Idiocy of Anonymous Gay Sex

The Hilarious Idiocy of Anonymous Gay Sex

"The joke, if there really is one, is on the bareback bottoms who 'restrict' their hookups to men who claim they are negative. These misguided folks are almost certainly already positive and don't yet know it, leaving the door open for them to infect others." -- Mark S. King

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"Sex Pigs" Campaign Creates Space for Sexually Adventurous Australian Men to Talk About HIV Risk

"Sex Pigs" Campaign Creates Space for Sexually Adventurous Australian Men to Talk About HIV Risk

"If we had a safe place in which to talk about risk-taking, maybe there'd be more understanding, therefore, that may contribute in some way to less risk-taking." -- Kathy Triffitt

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The Rising Rates of HIV Among Black and Latino Men: What's Going On?

The Rising Rates of HIV Among Black and Latino Men: What's Going On?

"Young, gay men of color are having unprotected sex for the very same reasons that everyone else is having unprotected sex: for love, for connection, for intimacy, for touch, for sex, for pleasure. There's nothing different that's happening. ... More and more studies are beginning to show us that, in fact, gay men are practicing higher rates of safer sex than heterosexual folks." -- Francisco Roque

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This Positive Life: An Interview With HIV Prevention Activist Jose Ramirez

This Positive Life: An Interview With HIV Prevention Activist Jose Ramirez

"If you're an immigrant and you can't get work, a lot of young people -- or people in general -- turn to commercial sex work. If you're undocumented and you have a client who's going to pay you at least $200 more to have unprotected sex, and you need that $200, you're going to take it." -- Jose Ramirez

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Condoms vs. Bareback Sex at Gay Men's Health Summit

Condoms vs. Bareback Sex at Gay Men's Health Summit (Video)

"I sat down with the original bareback poster boy, Tony Valenzuela, who famously rode naked astride a horse on the cover of POZ Magazine for a 1999 article on barebacking. Tony has surprisingly little ill feelings about the judgment and anger aimed in his direction when he honestly discussed his preference for unprotected sex." -- Mark S. King

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Subconscious Death-Wish of a Gifted, Young Black Man

Subconscious Death-Wish of a Gifted, Young Black Man

"I have dodged the 'bullet' many times. With my refusal to adhere to safe sex, I continually wonder if my game of Russian Roulette will soon come to a very unhappy and unfortunate conclusion." -- Terron J. Cook

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Harm Reduction for Barebacking?

Harm Reduction for Barebacking?

"Critics maintain that harm reduction makes dangerous behavior seem safer, leading to an increase in that behavior. But most research has overwhelmingly shown the latter to be untrue. Some have suggested that a harm reduction approach could be applied to barebacking." -- Rafael Madrid, Ph.D.

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Conceiving a Child While HIV Positive

Conceiving a Child While HIV Positive

"I didn't tell my doctor what I was doing for the fear of being chastised or having someone look at me in a negative light. Barebacking while HIV positive isn't exactly condoned by most medical providers. Yet, trusting that your doctor will give you some good information instead of frowning down upon you is a sign that you may have a great client/provider relationship." -- Jermaine Wright

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Do you have thoughts on sexual risk in gay men's communities? Share them in the comments section below, and your comment might be posted as part of an article in response to this piece.

Read more perspectives on barebacking and HIV/AIDS.




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