Barebacking has been defined as condomless anal intercourse (CLAI) in the presence of HIV risk among men who have sex with men. As HIV risk contexts are evolving due to advancements in biomedical HIV treatment and prevention, we need to examine previous assumptions about risk behaviour. The present study compares correlates of risk-taking, risk reduction and pleasure and intimacy among (n = 256) self-identified barebackers (barebacker group), men who engaged in condomless sex with partners of unknown or positive serostatus (CLAI group) and men reporting neither identity nor behaviour in Canada and the U.S (non-CLAI group). Barebacker identity was associated with sexual sensation-seeking, perceived benefits of barebacking, pleasure interference with condoms, chatting about barebacking online and use of seroadaptive strategies. Participants in the CLAI group used more seroadaptive strategies yet were higher in STI vulnerability. Condomless anal sex is likely a significant aspect of self-concept in barebackers. HIV-prevention efforts that focus on enhancing efficacy of seroadaptation is more appropriate for this population rather than promoting condom use.
Bareback sex emerged as a term during the latter half of the AIDS epidemic in the 1990s (Frasca, Ventuneac, Balan, & CarballoDieguez, 2012). However, there is a lack of consensus in the empirical literature regarding a definition of barebacking. While some investigations focus on intentional condomless anal intercourse (CLAI) as the hallmark of barebacking behaviour (Grov et al., 2007; Halkitis, Parsons, & Wilton, 2005), others operationalize the term as intentional CLAI in the presence of risk of HIV (Balan et al., 2013; Carballo-Dieguez & Bauermeister, 2004; Frasca, Dowsett, & Carballo-Dieguez, 2013). The "barebacker" also emerged as a personal identity and micro-culture organized around the rejection of condom use (Halkitis, 2007). Recent advancements in HIV treatment and prevention suggest that condomless anal sex no longer unequivocally poses a risk of HIV (Rodger et al., 2014; Grant et al., 2010; McCormack & Dunn, 2015), calling into question the current understanding of bareback sex and barebacker identity. 041b061a72