If you’ve seen any kind of gay porn then it’s pretty likely you know what ‘bareback’ means. It means fucking without a condom.
From a purely objective point of view, fucking without condoms makes no sense. We all know the risks of HIV and other STIs for gay and bi men, and how to mitigate them. The trouble, of course, is that we’re not dealing with rationality here but emotions. That moment before having sex is, arguably, when we’re at our least sensible. It’s just a shame that’s the moment when the stakes are also at their highest if we slip up.
Nothing is more effective at preventing the spread of HIV than condoms with water-based or silicone-based lube.
We can’t be there during the heat of the moment to remind you of how important condoms are, but we can equip you with some knowledge in the hope that, when your dick starts to contemplate bareback, your brain is armed with enough info to help you stay in control and look after yourself.
Below are some reasons some guys might use to justify sex without condoms, and why they might not be such great ideas.
It’s not risky if I’m the top.
It’s still risky. If the bottom has HIV, there is actually more HIV in his rectal secretions (saliva-like fluids from the inside of his ass) than in either his blood or his semen. HIV can enter the tip of your cock and get into your bloodstream.
If he pulls out before he cums, then it’s less risky.
Pulling out early is still risky because pre-cum (the clear liquid that can come out of your dick during foreplay) can also contain HIV.
He told me he’s negative and got tested recently.
Were you there when he got tested? People will tell you what you want to hear in the heat of the moment. If he did test negative, how many times has he fucked without condoms since his last test? If he fucks you bareback, is he still going to tell the next guy that he’s still negative?
He said he has an undetectable viral load.
Having an undetectable viral load does significantly reduce the risk of passing on HIV. But when considering the role of undetectable viral load in preventing HIV, there are other things to think about, in particular: if he's had other STIs or the flu recently, which can increase viral load; whether the he's been consistent in taking medication; as well as when his last viral load test was and if it is still valid. Undetectable viral load doesn’t protect against other STIs like syphilis, gonorrhoea and Hep C.
He said he's on PrEP so we don't need to worry
It's great that he's taking action for his own health, but it's not quite that simple. Being on PrEP is not a 100% guarantee that he hasn't got HIV so if you're not also on PrEP then you're still at risk. PrEP doesn't protect against other STIs like syphilis, gonorrhoea or Hep C, and you won't always know if someone has another STI because they can have no symptoms. Using condoms is the best way to enjoy the freedom of a great sex life without worrying about HIV and other STIs.
We're fuck-buddies and he says he doesn’t bareback anyone else. I’ll be the only one.
How many guys has he said that to? A recent survey among gay and bi Kiwis showed that 96% of fuck-buddies are not monogamous. Ditching condoms when you both have sex with other guys puts you both at risk.
It’s just this once.
How can you know it’s just this once? If he's putting the pressure on then chances are you'e not the only one he's fucked without condoms.
He says it feels more natural.
We’re not talking about muesli here! Your health is more important than his pleasure.
Don’t give in to pressure from guys who want to do anything you’re not happy about.
You can say ‘no’ to anyone at any time when you’re having sex and you don’t have to explain yourself.
Below are some examples of conversations you might have when someone puts the hard word on you:
We're boyfriends now and he says I can trust him.
Here’s a good response: “Because you care for me, I know that it might be hard for you to tell me if you'd slipped up and fucked someone else without a condom. Just like it would be hard for me to tell you if I did it. Since nothing’s as important as staying healthy, let’s use condoms.”
He says it feels better without a condom.
(If you’re the bottom) “Maybe it does for you, but a condom doesn’t make much difference to how it feels for me. I’m being put at risk just so you can have a slightly better time? You’ll last longer with a condom and that’ll double my pleasure. With me it's no condom – no fuck.”
(If you’re the top) “No thanks, it's not worth the risk for me. But if you want my cum inside you so much it’s much safer if I cum in your mouth.”
He says we don’t need condoms.
“Don’t dismiss my commitment to safe sex just like that! I don’t like my mind being made up for me by someone else. There are two of us involved here and either we use condoms to fuck or do something else instead.”