Recently I read an online article that discussed the practice of barebacking (generally an unsafe sex practice) and the increase that appears to be occuring with this activity.
“What we are seeing now is about 60 percent of the population is practicing safe sex most of the time, and about 40 percent of the population are barebacking or not practicing safe sex,” Zians said.
The article focuses on the increase of barebacking that is taking place amongst men who have sex with men, and seeks to explore who these men are, and why they are doing what they do “in the raw.” I think it is interesting that two terms appear in this article that suprised me: “safe-sex fatigue” and “condom fatigue” which suggest one of the reasons that there has been an increase in barebacking. Add to this the article in Rolling Stone – “In Search of Death” – which reported on “bug chasers” (men who actively seek out HIV-positive men to have sex with), and one can start to understand why there could be a larger group of men who undertake this practice (even though the articles contains many inaccuracies).
Factors contributing to the condomless numbers include a larger number of young gay men not hearing or relating to the safe-sex message, a surprising older population of guys abandoning condom use due to safe-sex fatigue, and a new epidemic among IV drug users.
Now more than ever, the need for a resurgence of the safe-sex message is so important. There are increases in HIV infections occuring amongst youth, and amongst older men (this group was more noticeable in Collin County in 2005). Sadly, living where we do, where sex is more of a concern that diseases, it can only be through community action that we can make this happen.