Barebacking

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.

So, you wanna top bareback…?
A lot of guys think if they're barebacking it's safe as long as they're the top… right? RIGHT? Wrong! Sure, it's more obviously unsafe to have some guy dump a butt-load of cum into your bare ass. But what are you risking if you're not the one getting fucked?

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!

Reality Condoms
Another good option for guys that hate to wear condoms is for the bottom to wear the condom instead. Reality makes a “female” condom, which is just as effective when used for anal sex. The Reality condom is made from polyurethane, which means that you can use any kind of lube with it, and it conducts heat, which means that the sex will be even hotter.

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!

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Serosorting
It's an odd word, but more and more people are using it nowadays… not just the word, but the practice itself. It comes from the word "serum" which has to do with fluids of the blood. If you have HIV then you are sero-positive, and if you don't then you are sero-negative. You get the idea. A negative/positive couple would be considered "sero-discordant" because they have a different HIV status. So, as I'm sure you've figured out, sero-sorting is the process of choosing your sexual/romantic partners based on whether or not they have HIV.

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.

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Pulling Out
One way to reduce risk of HIV transmission during bareback sex is for the top to pull out just before orgasm so that he doesn't cum inside the bottom. However, this can be difficult. A lot of tops will have the best intentions of pulling out, but some guys aren't very good at gauging when the right time is; or, when you reach that point your mind might not be on getting your cock out of that ass… in fact, quite the opposite. Also, some top guys might swear up and down that they won't cum in you, and then pull the "whoops!" line when they "accidentally" do anyways. And research has shown that HIV can be in pre-cum as well. As a bottom, you need to keep your ass covered, especially if you’re with somebody that you don't know how well you can trust. Due to these factors, pulling out is definitely not a surefire way of avoiding risk, but it is better than cumming inside a person.

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.

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Barebacking & Monogamy
Now you might ask: "What if my boyfriend and I have been in a monogamous relationship for five years, we are both negative, and we aren't using condoms? Are we Barebackers?" That's a good question, and the short answer is "No". Barebacking is a politicized term for people who refuse to use condoms. A couple in a truly monogamous relationship (i.e., not open to fuck buddies, thirds, etc.) who have both tested negative and have decided that they don't need condoms any more are not Barebackers, and they are not practicing "unsafe sex." This would be true of triples or quadruples as well, provided everyone in the relationship has been tested, and there is no sex going on outside of it.

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.

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Topping Only
Although it is not completely safe a lot of Negative guys who absolutely refuse to use condoms have made the decision that they will only top with a partner who is also negative, or at least says he is. Topping bareback is the second most common way to get HIV, after bottoming, so if you know your partner is Positive this is still very risky. Before you top bareback you should talk to your partner about his status, his other sex partners, and whether or not he’s been tested recently. That way you can decide whether or not to move on to the next guy.

Remember there are still an assload of other STDs out there that you will potentially be exposing yourself to. Wearing condoms can protect you from those. And pulling out before you cum is one way to keep your partners safer if you aren’t too sure about your HIV status, either.

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"Dipping"
It is easy to be in a situation where a little bit of fucking without a condom seems like a risk-less activity. This is known as "dipping". However, it is important to remember that HIV can be spread through microscopic tears in the skin of the penis or the anal lining caused by the friction from fucking. Also, STDs such as herpes, gonorrhea, chlamydia, and syphilis are spread through skin-to-skin contact, so if you have an infected area or sore on the head or shaft of your penis, or in your butt, they can still be passed back and forth even from just a "little bit" of barebacking. Something else to consider is that HIV and STDs can be found in pre-cum. Not to mention there is the temptation to just keep going... once you get into a "little bit of fucking" you may decide you don't want to stop and put on a condom. According to Kinsey, 75 percent of men ejaculate within three minutes of penetration. Orgasms can happen suddenly; be prepared and safe.

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Poz Bottom/Neg Top
Just like the HIV- guys who are only tops, a lot of Positive guys have made the decision that they will only Bottom with guys who are Negative, or who don’t know whether or not they are Poz. There is still a possibility of HIV infection from fucking raw, whether or not you are top or bottom. If you are HIV positive, you should let your partners know ahead of time.

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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