DISCLAIMER: First off, those of us at HomoHealth and Lifelong AIDS Alliance in no way condone fucking without condoms, especially with partners of unknown or different HIV status. Statistics show that bareback sex is the easiest and most frequent way of getting infected with HIV, as well as other STDs. The safest way to fuck is with latex or polyurethane condoms, used with water- or silicone-based lubes. Remember: fuck smart, fuck safe! Now, on with the show...
Barebacking, as most of you know, is the act of having unprotected (raw) anal sex. However, the term refers to guys who are doing this intentionally, or who have made a personal, political decision to not use condoms. Guys who usually use condoms but screw up every once in awhile (we’ve all been there), or have an occasional lapse, aren’t generally known as “Barebackers.” Barebacking started in the 90’s, mostly among HIV+ guys who decided that they didn’t need to use condoms when they were having sex with other positive guys. However, a lot of negative guys do it as well, and with partners who are both poz and neg.
There are various reasons why negative guys would bareback - they don’t think they’re at risk, they don’t worry about getting HIV or other STDs, or maybe they want to get infected. While positive guys have a greater risk of getting an STD, or the possibility of re-infection or dual infection, negative guys are risking a whole lot more.
Not to mention the biggest reason why we have bareback sex: because it feels good. It is also more natural and intimate. A lot of guys, both poz and neg, have successfully avoided HIV infection (or infecting others) by only having sex with guys who have the same status that they do. This is also known as “serosorting.” This can backfire, though, since some guys who think they are negative might not actually know for sure, or haven’t tested outside of the window period. Some guys might even lie about their status, or are too embarrassed to bring it up. We have a few tips inside to reduce your risk with partners whose HIV status is different than yours, or unknown.
In the recent gay horror flick, Hellbent, one of the characters speaks a simple, yet profound, truth: “Condoms suck, but they keep you safe.” For some guys, though, condoms are just not an option. They do cut off sensitivity during sex, and for beer-can dicks out there that little ring can cause you to lose your erection. But there are alternatives out there - like anal condoms, pulling out, or even monogamy. None of these are surefire ways to avoid infection, so that’s why we’ve got pointers, information and tips that can help you navigate the tricky, complex world of safer sex.
you wanna top bareback…?
See, HIV is a disease of the blood, which means it has to find a way to get into your body in order to infect you. This can happen in really obvious ways like getting HIV-infected cum in big holes like your ass or mouth, because the semen gets right into your body. Even if you get cum in your mouth, whether you spit it out or swallow, if you have a cut or sore or anything like that in your mouth, that is a way for the HIV to get in.
But HIV is a virus and, thus, very, very small. That means it doesn't need a big hole to get into your body. It can get in through holes that are so small you can't even see them.
For instance, when you're fucking someone there is friction. This is one of the reasons why fucking feels so good. But, that same friction also creates microscopic lesions on your penis and the anus. Since you're skin is more sensitive in these areas (especially inside the ass), it is more easy to damage. Hence, the micro-tears. Now, obviously these microscopic tears don't go around gushing blood everywhere. You can't see them. You don't even notice them. But they are there.
And they're big enough for a tiny little virus like HIV to get through. That's how HIV can pass from one guy's ass into another guy's dick. Also, if you have any STDs, like syphilis or herpes, on your penis that is another access route for HIV.
Now, you might think that using lots of lube will prevent the asshole from getting all torn up, and it’s true that there won't be as much friction. But there will still be friction. And there will still be microscopic tears. And lube doesn't kill HIV. Even Nonoxynol-9. Oh sure, it'll kill the sperm, but that's not the goal here. It's not like you're trying to prevent a pregnancy.
In fact N-9 is very destructive to your anal membrane, causing it to shed its cells and exposing itself completely. You won't even have to worry about microscopic tears at that point since there won't be anything left anyways. In fact, using N-9 makes it even easier for a bottom to get HIV and STDs since it takes approximately 8 hours for the cellular lining in your ass to regenerate itself. That's plenty of time to get fucked raw and be exposed to a whole bunch of viruses and bacteria.
So, if you think it's safe to fuck bareback as long as you're the top, think again. It takes a lot less than cum to catch HIV. The best way to avoid it is to fuck with latex or polyurethane condoms, and use lubes that are water-or silicone-based. Remember, top smart, top safe!
The condom is inserted into the anus, with a ring holding it inside, and another ring around the opening, which sits right outside of the asshole. It’s basically like a bag in your ass. This way, the top doesn’t lose any sensation to his cock, and the bottom still gets the feeling of a throbbing cock going deep into his ass. It’s a win-win situation, and just as safe as using a traditional male condom.
As with other condoms, make sure to tie it off and throw it away when you’re done, and use a new condom each time you have sex, and for each different sex partner. Also, you shouldn’t use a male condom with a female condom as the friction between the two will cause them to break. Just stick with one or the other, and everyone will be a happy camper!
Some people find this a bit discriminatory, but a lot of people do it anyway as a normal part of hooking up or dating people. Most of the time it is actually Positive guys who won't date Negative, and not necessarily the other way around. It has also been one effective way of curbing new HIV infections, for obvious reasons.
Now, just because a guy says he is negative doesn't mean he truly knows for sure. It takes a few months for HIV to show up on a test, which means if they've had unsafe sex recently a negative result doesn't mean a thing. So, we're not advocating having bareback sex with somebody who says he's negative as a way of avoiding HIV infection. But pairing off with someone of your same status, while still practicing safer sex, definitely reduces your chances of catching HIV, or something else.
Remember, there are still a lot of other critters out there that you can get. And Positive guys should remember that they are more susceptible to STDs and other infections, which they can still get from having unprotected sex with another Positive guy. Also, up to 25% of Positive guys have Hepatitis C co-infection, which can complicate treatment and health. There is no cure or vaccine for Hep C, but using condoms can protect you against it.
Just because you're sero-sorting doesn't mean condoms and lube should fall out of the picture, but it can be another important tool for maintaining your health whether you're Positive or Negative.
One way to tell how close a guy is to cumming is by feeling his balls. Usually they tighten up and get closer to the body before they're about to shoot. You can casually reach down and fondle his balls while he's fucking you, and decide for yourself when you think he's getting too close. But remember, even if he doesn't cum inside you, there is still risk from microscopic tears on the penis and the anal lining. Semen isn't the only way to spread HIV, not to mention the fact that you are at risk from other STDs by coming into contact with someone's bare cock or asshole.
If you are in a long-term relationship with a primary boyfriend or partner, but either one or both of you have sex outside of that relationship, you are still at risk for HIV or other STDs. And so are your partners. It is advisable that you use condoms with everybody if you are having sex with more than one person. Some couples in open relationships set up rules, like oral only with other partners, or if you are going to fuck you must use condoms, or you can only top other guys, and so on. It’s important that everyone follows the rules, and if one of the partners screws up, they need to be able to tell the other. This is why communication is key, and both partners have to be able to trust each other enough to talk about these sorts of things.
There are still other STDs to consider besides HIV. Many are passed through skin-on-skin contact, and it is often easier for Positive guys to get infected because of their immune system. So, it’s always a good idea to talk to your partners about whether or not they’ve been tested recently, or if they’ve had raw sex with anyone else who might have an STD. Talking about this stuff can be an awkward mood-killer, but it can also put your mind at ease and make fucking more enjoyable when you aren’t worrying so much about whether or not you might be exposing yourself to something else.
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