Intentional unprotected anal intercourse among sex who have sex with men: barebacking - from behavior to identity

AIDS Behav. 2007 Mar;11(2):277-87. doi: 10.1007/s10461-006-9135-1.


Unprotected sex among gay/bisexual men throughout the AIDS epidemic has usually been described as unintentional due to a relapse from safer sex behavior. The term "barebacking" emerged among HIV-positive men explicitly seeking unprotected sex with seroconcordant partners, but has come into use in the larger gay community to simply mean condomless sex. Some men have also taken on the identity as a "barebacker." The present study assessed prevalence and predictors of bareback identity in a sample 687 gay/bisexual men attending community events. Barebackers reported significantly more use of crystal methamphetamine and higher peer norms for unprotected sex; HIV-negative barebackers were higher in sexual compulsivity while HIV-positive barebackers were higher in romantic obsession as well as drug/alcohol influenced sexual expectancies. HIV prevention efforts targeting barebackers and barebacking must be carefully developed if programs and campaigns are to be effective given the open debates about this phenomenon in the gay community.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Attitude to Health*
  • Bisexuality
  • HIV Infections / prevention & control
  • HIV Infections / psychology*
  • HIV Seronegativity
  • HIV Seropositivity
  • Homosexuality, Male*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Risk-Taking*
  • Unsafe Sex*