Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Health Promoters Confront Contradictions in Practicing 'Bareback' Sex

via, by Roger Pebody

When asked by researchers to talk about their practice of having ‘bareback’ sex (unprotected anal intercourse), HIV-negative gay and bisexual men express a contradiction between their concern to remain uninfected and their simultaneous awareness that their behaviour may expose them to infection, according to a study published in the July issue of Qualitative Health Research.

The research suggests that, rather than giving factual information about risks, health promoters should create spaces in which men who bareback can talk about their behaviour and its justification, in order to explore inner contradictions and reframe their behaviour.

This isn’t the first study to show that many HIV-negative gay men who bareback remain concerned about the prospect of acquiring HIV and want to avoid infection. However, previous studies have given little attention to how men understand and deal with this tension.

Researchers at Columbia University therefore recruited men who self-identified as a ‘barebacker’ or someone who ‘practices barebacking’ to take part in a two-hour, face-to-face, in-depth interview about their sexual behaviour. Men were recruited from dating web sites associated with bareback sex in New York. Interviews were conducted in 2005 and 2006.

Although HIV-positive men were also interviewed, this analysis covers the 89 HIV-negative men who took part. Their average age was 32, four-fifths were employed and they were broadly representative of the ethnic diversity of New York City.

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