OA_show('Wallpaper');
OA_show('Leaderboard - Xx90');
Choose your edition:

Search form

Almost half of gay men bareback: study

Almost half of gay men bareback: study

IMAGE 1 OF 1
Researchers suggest more men use PrEP as part of intervention
A new survey of gay and bisexual men shows almost half report having unprotected sex always, often or sometimes.

Of the 725 men surveyed, most say they are educated about HIV/AIDS, and fear getting infected or re-infected.

Dr Freddy Molano and Renato Barucco of New York’s non-profit Community Healthcare Network (CHN) focused on men who use apps such as Grindr, Scruff, Manhunt and Growlr to meet sexual partners.

The focus of the survey, which received replies from men in Australia, South America, Eastern Europe, the UK, Canada, and mostly the US, was to gain insight into men’s perspectives on HIV/AIDS and unprotected sex. It also included an optional section asking respondents why they might take risks during sex.

According to the findings, 81 percent of respondents know HIV is transmitted through “unprotected anal sex, vaginal sex and, less frequently, oral sex.”

About 68 percent are afraid to be infected or re-infected and believe people should be more concerned about the epidemic.

 A “vast majority” considers barebacking dangerous and believes barebackers know the risks.

Almost 47 percent of respondents admit to barebacking “always, often or sometimes,” while almost 54 percent say they never have unprotected anal intercourse.

Barucco says respondents have unprotected sex primarily because condoms don’t feel good (almost 85 percent); they act impulsively (74 percent); or they are under the influence of drugs and alcohol.

Vancouver therapist Bill Coleman, who has worked with the HIV community for more than 25 years, adds that people are often not assertive enough to insist on condom use. “Part of it is, ‘if I insist you use a condom, then I’m accusing you of being positive or you are going to think I am positive.’”

He says often people feel vulnerable in hookup situations, or they’re expecting hot sex only to find themselves in a “boring negotiation” that may put people off.

Coleman says people are not out looking to get infected, and know that fucking without condoms is a risk, but it happens anyway.

Wayne Robert, executive director of Vancouver’s Health Initiative for Men (HIM), says the CHN study is one of the first he’s seen that investigates the apps connection. HIM, too, is interested in how men meet.

“The percentage of times where guys are saying that they met their last sexual contact online has been rising, and that’s been going on for a long time,” he notes.

“At the beginning of last year, we said it would be helpful to serve our patients better to find out what’s going on on these apps,” Barucco says, adding that the study did not specifically investigate a correlation between an increasing use of apps and an increase in HIV infections among men who have sex with men. He notes that some of the apps actually work with HIV prevention initiatives.

Robert says the numbers in the CHN study are somewhat similar to those in the ManCount study conducted in Vancouver bars, clubs and cafes in 2008.

ManCount found 59 percent of men surveyed said they used a condom the last time they had anal sex, while almost 40 percent didn’t.

Hookup app users may be more sexually active than average gay men, Robert suggests. “It wouldn’t surprise me to find out that those numbers were higher.”

Still, Robert says all kinds of people engaging in all kinds of behaviour are at risk.

“If you’re having unprotected anal sex with somebody whose status you don’t know, or aren’t entirely sure of, and if you’re not getting tested on a regular basis, then there’s a potential for a risk.”

That’s the important message, he says, regardless of whether you’re finding guys “through an app or Sunday school.”

There’s great diversity in men’s sexual lives and experiences, Robert says, pointing out that those who use apps like Grindr may need messages tailored to their needs. “Also we need to ensure that we’re not then saying those are the only guys who need to hear these messages. The fact is that anyone can find themselves in a situation where they’re exposed.”

Molano and Barucco hope the study will be helpful in developing different ways to deliver prevention messages.

“We have spent a lot of money and time on condom initiatives, and I’m pretty sure that many people are using condoms, but the reality is other people have decided that they would rather have sex without condoms,” Molano says.

Given the high rates of at least occasional barebacking, the CHN researchers recommend increased use of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) pills in the gay community.

Last year, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Truvada, a PrEP drug that could significantly reduce the risk of HIV infection in uninfected individuals. It was approved for use in conjunction with other safer-sex tools such as condom use and regular HIV testing.

“If you do it as part of an intervention, that you go to counselling, education, and have a baseline to know that you are negative, that your partner is positive, and also looking at the viral load of your partner, that could be of great help,” Molano suggests.

Robert says HIM is looking at all kinds of strategies, from condom negotiation to PrEP. He says it’s “really early days” for PrEP, noting that it hasn’t been tried with significant numbers of gay men for significant periods of time.

“The concern around that is whether people would then start to rely on that as a stand-alone. It’s not intended that way.”

Molano says he’s never been a strong believer in condom use as prevention, even though it’s useful and works.

“The secret is to meet your patients where they’re at,” Barucco says. “If they don’t want to hear condoms, you can mention it as much as you want, you’re not going to achieve any results.”

Coleman agrees. “We have sex because it’s fun, and it’s a connection, and negotiation of condoms can really get in the way of that.”

Condom use has been the message for 20 years, and it’s not sensitive to reality, Coleman continues. “If it were just a matter of people needing to know that, we wouldn’t have problems with people getting infected now.”

Barucco says it’s not a question of abandoning the strategies of the past. “We just want to add on to it, and maybe using treatment as well. We are already using treatment as prevention, not so much in terms of pre-exposure prophylaxis, but in terms of treating the positive.”

Molano says a key element is empowering people with relevant information so that they can make the right decision for their circumstances. “We cannot be judgmental,” he adds.

Comments

Been peer reviewed????
It isn't clear if this study and associated data have been published in any peer reviewed outlet. Until it is, I would view these results with a great deal of skepticism.
Irresponsible reporting
That Xtra headline is misleading... The study "focused on men who use apps such as Grindr, Scruff, Manhunt and Growlr to meet sexual partners." Now, a lot of guys use those apps, but it's a stretch to generalize this study and write "half of gay men". But people, especially those with a hate-on for gays, will see the headline and turn it into something nasty. Terrible "journalism".
hmm
I don't care how many posters about safe sex a bathhouse has, nor how many condoms they are supplying, if you have ever been in one especially when the drugs are running through the place, it can be a scary and unsafe scene. People get caught up in the moment, especially under the influence and they don't think about the situation rather they just want to be a part of it if accepted. And why are these places holding unsafe sex parties like Cummunion?! That just says the people that own these places don't care and it's just a money grab for them..but they have the safe sex poster up. Just because someone else is doing something doesn't mean it's right in any factor in life. That silly 'how come he gets too attitude', grow up. I personally love sex, but I also play it safe. Who wants to rely on a pill for the rest of your life? Don't you have enough to manage in your day without resorting to that? And what does that cost the medical system? meh, this is all a touchy subject for people but I think this is a good thing these researchers and health care workers are doing. Good information is the key to healthy living. Self respect and all that...
misleading
Those who go on Grindr for the purposes of sexual encounters are not a representative, generalizable, sample of gay men. I'm sure this story with its misleading headline will be cited by anti-gay hatemongers in their crusades.
its multipartner isn't it?
Hopefully the survey distinguished between multi partner bare backing and non condom sex btw committed couples. That's pretty obvious an assumption isn't it?
Surveys OI!
we all know, I hope, that surveys really mean nothing. Not ever. I mean, I bb with my partner of 12 years. Neither of us sleep with anyone else and so what? Straight couples bb all the time. Especially the hetero gay-haters.....ya, i'm sure 1/2 of them use condoms....don't make me laugh. Knock it off with this nonsense!
PrEP let's mutate it
PrEP. OK so the idea is to give a bunch of guys not committed or responsible enough to use condoms a strict drug regimen to fight an readily mutating retrovirus. Some guys still get infected, take the PrPEP intermittently in the window period and the HIV mutates to a resistant, more easily transmissible and virulent form (as viruses tend to do naturally when they pass easily through a greater number of hosts more readily) as the guys feel even more 'protected' and free to continue to multoi-partner bareback. Just like how we got penicillin resistant hard to treat syphilis in the 80s after men in the 70s were prophylaxed with antibiotics. Tragic how humans don't learn from history.
Misleading
The term "barebacking" is misleading. Are we talking about people who have unprotected sex with multiple partners, strangers, or whose HIV status is unknown? Or are we talking about committed partners who have been tested? Or both? I "bareback" with my partner, as do many men who are in long-term relationships, who trust their partners, have been tested, and have assessed the risks. The researchers often seem to forget about this demographic: committed gay couples who are actually at very low risk, provided they are honest with each other about their sexual behaviors.
It's the promiscuity, stupid
Why shouldn't men bareback other men? Men bareback women every night so I don't see why men shouldn't bareback men. The problem isn't the barebacking, it's the promiscuity. Once, just once, I would love to see the gay media talk about the need to reduce promiscuity. Instead, we get all this noise about the need to wear a condom. If you reduced your promiscuity, you would go half-way to solving your problems. But, of course, we all know that the gay male social scene is built on promiscuity and the money it generates. Follow the money trail.
Condoms assure intimacy
The attitude that condoms prevent intimacy is falatious, they actually encourage intimacy by providing protection from STD's that can cause life-long problems like Herpes or HPV. I don't understand the entitlement so many Young MSM have about unprotected sex. No one is entitled to this! One should always act as if the world is HIV positive. People need to take personal responsibility for their health by always wearing a condom.
Sign in or Register to post comments