Gregg Homme
For those of you who still donít know what barebacking is this slang term refers to a man having unprotected sex with another man. In this second and final feature OutUK correspondent L.A.Vess looks at men who bareback fully aware of the risks.

The first participate quite knowingly in what some refer to as a sexual Russian roulette. These are men who are perfectly aware of the risk of HIV and other STDs and yet have unprotected sex with non-partners on a routine basis. Some of these men even have unprotected sex with those they know have HIV or another STD, or they have HIV and have sex without condoms anyway.

There are two sub groups within this category. First are the casual barebackers. These are your typical gay guys, with or without HIV, who routinely picks up men and have unprotected sex with them.
Very often, they may have only just met their sexual partner and know nothing about their sexual history. Generally, they live by a ĎDonít ask, donít tellí policy - all talk about HIV status and other STDs is taboo. Even if the subject does come up, they will often lie and say they donít have HIV or even say they DO have HIV if their intended conquest does.

In this case, we are not dealing with those that bareback out of ignorance - but rather those who KNOW they can get HIV or other STDs, but still donít take action to protect themselves. To these men, HIV is simply one more risk of the sexual game.

Men in this category constitute one of the highest risk groups for contracting HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases in the world. Outbreaks of AIDS, gonorrhea, syphilis, herpes and other diseases have often been traced back to one person in a particular scene or town. This person may or may not have been aware of their disease status. In most of these cases, they slept with multiple partners without a condom - and then those people slept with others without using condoms. Hence, another outbreak of disease that could have been easily prevented by either that one person insisting on safe-sex or his partners doing so.

CHAT ROOMS

Recently, internet chat rooms have been a growing breeding ground for such outbreaks. A disease positive person hangs out in a chat room with a specific group of people, they all go out with each other, and bang - another outbreak. A comment I read recently in an online forum addressed this issue. The man who wrote it claimed to be HIV+ and had knowingly had sex with multiple HIV- men he had met in online chat rooms. He posted that he met men online, ďbecause they donít know I have AIDS. Everyone I know already knows. But online I can meet people away from where I live or outside the clubsĒ. He went on to say that since the people he met online didnít know he was HIV positive, he didnít have to use a condom because they didnít ask him to. In fact, he seemed quite pleased with himself as he continued, ďif they get sick, thatí s their problem, the sluts.Ē

Others in this group go by looks alone. Some seem to believe that if a guy looks healthy, then he must be healthy. Believe you me, this is absolutely incorrect. A neighbour of mine had been living with HIV for five years and he looked, walked and talked like a Greek God until the week he suddenly fell ill. You CANNOT tell a person has HIV by how they look. Another mythology is the young man syndrome. Some assume that young men, in their teens or early twenties could not have contracted the disease yet. Wrong again. A large number of teens and twenty-something men in this country have HIV or another STD. Also, young men tend to be more disbelieving of HIV. They know it exists, but they donít believe that the risk of getting it is as high as it used to be, or they donít believe the disease is that bad.

Primarily, men who casually bareback seem to simply not care about HIV or other diseases. Some of them are positive and either doní t care if they infect others, or feel that everyone should be infected if they are. Many of them are negative, but simply donít want to deal with the issues surrounding safe sex - or lose sensitivity by using a condom. Most of them donít want to get HIV or AIDS, but they seem to live in some sort of fantasy world that it Ďjust wonít happen to themí.

RUSSIAN ROULETTE

The second group of Russian Roulette barebackers are far more frightening. These are men who have unprotected sex on purpose with the HIV positive. There are some individuals who do this Ė playing a game with themselves. Iíve met a few and I think they are disturbed. While they are extremely rare, sometimes, these men even form Ďclubsí or institute Ďgatheringsí where HIV- and HIV+ men get together just to have sex and see who comes up positive. I have encountered discussions and records of discussions of these types on the Net. While those things are not proof in themselves, they do lend strength to the argument that this groups actually do exist out there. While not all such groups are this extreme, many group sex clubs are forming where HIV status is just not discussed at all. In every way, this is exactly like the game of Russian Roulette - loaded pistol and all. There are even groups out there that campaign for a return of the sexual freedom of the 1970í s, like Sex Panic, and think that people should just get over the risk of HIV and STDs.

Many of the men that participate in these groups want to be able to gather together with others who expressly DONíT ask or tell about HIV status. This keeps them from having to think about it, worry about it or answer questions they donít want to answer. However, some of these men actually experience a sexual rush out of dodging HIV, as a report by POZ Magazine, a San Francisco magazine revealed after an informal survey. There are even online groups where men go to find an extreme risk sex partner and arrange to have sex with them just for the thrill of it.

GIVING UP, GIVING IN

The last group of barebackers may be the most pathetic. These men have just given up on using condoms because they believe that they are going to get HIV at some point anyway. This is not only ridiculous, but incredibly sad. You can prevent yourself from getting AIDS, all it takes is common sense and a willingness to put your brain before your head.

Many men in this category live in large cities areas and know a large number of men who have HIV, or have already died from HIV, according to Canadian support group Cruiseline. Sometimes, when faced with an overwhelming number of people in their community who are HIV positive, these men simply cannot believe it is possible for them to remain disease free. They may even welcome getting the disease, just so they can fit in or stop having to worry about getting it.

Others in this group have HIV positive partners and have chosen to stop using protection. Some assume that they will get AIDS eventually regardless if they use condoms or not. Some may actually prefer to have HIV so that they can feel more equal with their partners. Consider this, if you truly love someone, do you really want to burden them with your sickness? Just because you are willing to take on that burden for them, does not mean you have the right to stick them with an equally horrific burden. And if your partner truly loves you, why would they want to let you get sick and die? The problem with this is that being afraid and worrying over getting HIV is far less of a horrific thing than getting HIV and being afraid and worrying about the future.

In the end, any form of barebacking with ANYONE you are not absolutely, completely sure of being HIV and disease free is just one more form of attempted suicide. If you are horrified by the thought of shooting heroin, downing a bottle of sleeping pills or taking a razor to your wrists - you should be equally as horrified at yourself or anyone else for having unprotected sex.

For more information and advice on AIDS and HIV then check out the resources in our OutReach directory.

In the first part of the series we said 'Your chances of getting infected have absolutely NO relation to what position you take during sexual intercourse.' OutUK reader Davey commented "While it is true that you can be infected as a bottom or a top, it is widely accepted that it is more risky as a bottom"... and referred to a publication released some years ago by the Terrence Higgins Trust. OutUK's Editor responds "This states that it can be less risky to fuck bareback than be fucked, but I think the point of our feature is that any form of unprotected sex is dangerous, and the overall level of risk is not linked to your favourite position when fucking. While it is useful to know the facts about the level of risk of a particular activity, it would be irresponsible of us to suggest that unprotected sex is significantly safer for a top than a bottom. While it maybe easier for the HIV virus to be passed on more easily from a top to a bottom, the passage in question referred to the chance of an individual actually becoming infected. This is because a whole host of factors come into play from your state of health to whether you have any cuts or abrasions on your cock and not simply your sexual position. As far as we know there is no evidence to suggest that more bottoms are HIV+ than tops, however we take on board the views of the THT."

Barebacking Pt 1

Gay Sexual Health during the pandemic

 

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