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How bareback culture has evolved since the AIDS epidemic

Health Life

How bareback culture has evolved since the AIDS epidemic

Marlin Lemmons December 18, 2017
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For a few, bareback sex is intimate and liberating. For others, it’s dangerous and frightening.

When I was in my early 20s, I had bareback sex for the very first time.

It was with this French guy. We had a long-distance relationship and I was thinking about moving to France for him. We both got tested for HIV, and the results were negative so we decided to fuck “natural” during one check out. The taboo of it appeared to make the sex hotter – for the first few times anyway.

There was also an even of intimacy; it made us feel a lot more committed to each other. I ended up moving to France.

I’d always been fascinated by bareback sex. Whenever I saw guys fucking raw in porn or at a bathhouse, I usually thought it was really hot but I was so terrified by the virus that I also discovered these scenes unsettling. I’d wondered whether they were HIV-positive, or if just they didn’t care whether they became positive. And if that was the case, why didn’t they care?

The latex condom was made in the 1920s, but with all the current issues people had with them, condomless sex wasn’t out of the norm prior to the AIDS epidemic. With the arrival of antibiotics in the 1930s and 1940s, gonorrhea and syphilis were curable while various other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) were manageable, if not completely treatable.

Consequently, most Americans were ready to chance it with unprotected sex, so much to ensure that between 1965 and 1970, condom use had dropped to half, (in sociologist Joshua Gamson’s essay “Rubber Wars,” he says that during those five years, condom use declined 22 percent).

The Gay Men’s Health Task in NY tried to distribute condoms in a bathhouse during the 1970s, but they didn’t catch on – one criticism was that gay men saw condoms as a contraceptive method for straight folks. Sales in america then fell by half through the mid-1970s and 1980s. Then came HIV in 1981.

By 1983, the cause of AIDS was still unknown. What they did understand was that it had been sexually transmitted and there was good reason to believe that semen was the main mode for this transmission. A booklet called “How to Have Sex within an Epidemic” appeared in Might of this year, which was one of the two publications to promote condom make use of as a preventative tool.

Between 1986 and 1987, condom sales jumped 20 percent nationwide at US drugstores.

Still, bareback sex means different things to different people. For some, it’s frightening, dangerous and irresponsible. For others it’s intimate, liberating and normal.

The later 1990s and early 2000s gave rise to parties and events exclusively for bareback culture. Biohazardmen, a celebration in Berlin that’s been heading on for greater than a 10 years, is for HIV-positive males. According to their guidelines, anybody who attends the party is definitely declaring that they are HIV-positive and understands that everyone else at the party is definitely positive too – there should be no conversation about HIV or health status, illness or medication whatsoever.

There’s also, BarebackRT.com, the biggest hook-up site for barebacking. The website permits inclusive sero-status profile options, from “Positive” and “Undetectable” to “Neg + PrEP” and “USUALLY DO NOT Care.”

The bareback scene continued to evolve further in 2010 with the CumUnion sex parties (they label themselves as “pro-choice” without explicitly saying that it’s a bareback sex party, which still reinforces the taboo), with the first following Dore Alley in SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA that year. This “pro-choice” party grew in popularity over the last six years, hosting more than 30 parties on a monthly basis in 23 cities all over the world, including at Steamworks in Toronto.

When Truvada was approved for PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) in 2012, it allowed men the same bareback encounter but without fear of contracting HIV. But PrEP developed a division in opinion, frequently based on morality, unfounded fear and judgement. Although some say it encourages dangerous and irresponsible behaviour, PrEP has also allowed HIV-positive and negative guys to come together without stigma or dread. With the research finding that being undetectable means it’s highly unlikely to transmit HIV, we’ve entered a new era that can once more re-visit barebacking.

But there’s still intense opposition to bareback sex, even with PrEP. Serosorting proceeds to divide HIV-positive and negative men. PrEP is still not accessible to everyone. The president of Helps Healthcare Foundation, Michael Weinstein, provides been adamantly against PrEP, infamously phoning it a “party drug.” In my opinion, his questionable intentions have caused more harm than good.

PrEP may not be great – it doesn’t protect against other STIs, for instance -but it’s an efficient tool in preventing the transmitting of HIV. In america, where there have been over 39,000 people contaminated with HIV in 2015, which could’ve been prevented with PrEP, it appears wrong that the leader of such a large organization would dismiss it, and then double-down on that claim.

Despite this, his perspective does offer insight as to the reasons these taboos exist. Weinstein claims that the successful promotion of secure sex was one of the primary legacies of the AIDS motion, with condoms at the center of this prevention movement. I can’t argue with that, but what he does not realize is that PrEP is now safe sex too. Maybe this history is why many people have trouble letting go of old-school notions.

Support and opposition for bareback sex, condoms and PrEP will certainly continue until we find a get rid of for HIV/AIDS. For me, bareback sex is just not an option right now. I’m no longer on PrEP and as much as i know I’m negative, so condoms are necessary.

To be honest, I still find sex with condoms amazing, therefore to each their own.

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