March 16, 2007
The investigators designed the current study to learn the extent to which HIV-positive gay men in London intentionally seek unprotected anal intercourse ("barebacking") and this phenomenon's contribution to total sexual risk.
In an HIV clinic and on the Internet in 2002 and 2003, HIV-positive gay men were surveyed about whether they had intentionally sought bareback experiences in the past 12 months.
Among the 481 men in the clinic sample, 59 (12.3 percent) reported seeking bareback sex; 34 (7.1 percent) of these only with another HIV-positive man; 25 (5.2 percent) with a man of unknown or serodiscordant status. Eighty-five men reported barebacking with a casual partner of unknown or serodiscordant status. Twenty (23.5 percent) had intentionally looked for unprotected anal intercourse with such a partner; 65 (76.5 percent) had not. Among the 66 men surveyed on the Internet, 32 (48.5 percent) reported seeking bareback sex.
"Although barebackers made a disproportionate contribution to sexual risk, three-fourths of high-risk sex reported by HIV-positive gay men in London was not intentional," the researchers concluded. "The Internet sample overestimated the prevalence of barebacking among HIV-positive gay men because of sampling bias."