I know that I feature plenty of bareback porn here, but I also like to include other bareback articles and features here too. There are already a number of bareback and sexual health articles I have written and while they may not be for everyone, I believe that it’s important to include this information here to make Brad Bare a useful bareback portal containing a blend of information and entertainment. I have found an interesting article at Aidsmap called Health educators should work with the inner contradictions that ‘barebackers’ express and I wanted to discuss this article here.

Researchers at Columbia University invited men who self-identified as being a ‘barebacker’ or someone who ‘practices barebacking’ to take part in a two-hour, face-to-face in-depth interview about their sexual behavior. The male participants were recruited from dating websites associated with bareback sex in New York and the interviews were conducted in 2005 and 2006. The findings have been published in the July 2012 issue of Qualitative Health Research. If you’re wondering why data collected in 2005 and 2006 is only being published now, it’s because it takes time for the data to be analyzed and organized before being released.

I find it fascinating reading about barebacking and I think it’s important to discuss barebacking, because many of us who engage in unprotected sexual intercourse on a regular basis and others are wanting to learn more about it. For this study, the researchers interviewed HIV-negative and HIV-positive men, but the results were compiled using the responses from the HIV-negative gay and bisexual participants. The analysis for this study consisted of 89 HIV-negative men who took part, where their average age was 32, four-fifths were employed and there was a broad representation of the ethnic diversity of New York City.

The researchers discovered that while HIV-negative gay and bisexual men seek to remain HIV-negative, there are concerns about the precautions taken whilst engaging in bareback sex and some of the actions could lead to a person becoming HIV-positive, even though that may not be the intention of those who engage in unprotected anal intercourse. It’s important to remember that we are all individuals and as a result may act differently, so I am simply commenting on the research that has been undertaken and I am aware that observations may be different depending upon the participants involved in the study.

The researchers found that rather than giving factual information about risks involved with barebacking, health promoters should create spaces in which men who bareback can talk about their behavior and its justification, in order to explore inner contradictions and re-frame their behavior. I guess what is being said here is that rather than health educators explaining the risks, they want individuals to think about the risks for themselves so they can explore the pros and cons of barebacking and come to their own conclusions about the risks involved.

I have always firmly believed that anyone who wants to engage in bareback sex needs to consider the risks involved and make an informed decision about the pros and cons of barebacking prior to having unprotected sex. This appears to be what the researchers are saying, but they are highlighting that barebackers should think about sexual health and the consequences of barebacking carefully for themselves and then explore these thoughts in the right environment before finding themselves in a situation where their increased level of sexual arousal may affect them making a decision they may not have made had they not been in such a sexual situation.

What I have just mentioned can be connected to this quote from one of the research participants during his interview: “Something happens. You know, you get to a point, it’s as if being sexually turned on – you know, they talk about how your judgment is impaired when you’re on drugs. I don’t need drugs. All I need is to be with a hot guy, and a good deal of my judgment gets put on hold.” I think this is where the researchers are identifying issues with those who wish to remain HIV-negative – the intention to remain negative is there, but some situations have the ability to alter the original intention and a person may place themselves at a higher level of risk that they intended to find themselves in.

Timothy Frasca and his colleagues say that they “observed contradictions in some men’s narratives between their wishes to avoid HIV infection and their simultaneous acknowledgment of the risks involved in their barebacking practices”. Men who said that they were powerless in the face of sexual desire did not try to explain such incidents away as not really being risky. Instead they admitted that they were unable to carry out their prior intentions.

Some of the participants described their sexual practices, including withdrawing before ejaculation or not barebacking on a first meeting, which they thought could reduce the risk of infection, but at the same time the participants often expressed doubt about the reliability of what they were doing. Here is another quote from a participant during his interview: “I know that pre-cum has HIV in it too. So you really don’t protect somebody by pulling out. But it’s kind of a pretense toward that.”

This is an interesting quote that identifies an issue with discussing HIV status prior to barebacking: “Sometimes I just try to push it out [of my mind] so I can enjoy the sex, because that’s what I’m there for. I’m not there to freak out about my status.” It’s not easy discussing HIV status prior to having bareback sex, but this is very important, particularly if you are sero-sorting and need to know the HIV status of the other person to help you identify sexual partners who have the same HIV status as yourself. It can be difficult to balance the clinical element of an HIV discussion and the erotic element of a sexual encounter.

The researchers comment: “When questioned about barebacking in the research interview, many men who practice it offered a perception of their own risk that fit the behavior engaged in. That is, the barebacking behavior of men in our sample appears to have influenced their construction of risk-avoidance postures that are consistent with continuing the practice. This is quite different from the assumptions of behavior change models that address perceptions of risk as a precursor to risk modification.”

I found this study quite interesting, because often barebackers enjoy the sensation and benefits of barebacking, but many also have concerns about their sexual health as a result of having sex without the use of condoms. I have only briefly covered some of the research findings in this article and I have only included a small number of quotes from the original article. I recommend you read more on this subject so you can get a better understanding of this study.

References:

  1. Frasca T et al. Inner Contradictions Among Men Who Bareback. Qualitative Health Research 22: 946-956, 2012.
    http://qhr.sagepub.com/content/22/7/946.abstract
  2. Health educators should work with the inner contradictions that ‘barebackers’ express – Aidsmap
    http://www.aidsmap.com/Health-educators-should-work-with-the-inner-contradictions-that-barebackers-express/page/2382340/
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