Objectives: To determine the correlates associated with barebacking identity among HIV-positive gay and bisexual men.
Design: An analysis of data from the baseline quantitative assessment of a randomized controlled intervention study of 1168 HIV-positive gay and bisexual men from New York City and San Francisco.
Methods: Participants were actively and passively recruited from mainstream gay venues, AIDS service organizations, and public and commercial sex environments. Participants completed a computerized quantitative questionnaire assessing their identity as a barebacker, sexual behavior, demographic factors, psychosocial states, perceptions of health risks, and substance use.
Results: Men of color were less likely to identify themselves as barebackers. Men who did identify themselves as barebackers were slightly younger. They were more likely to miss a dose of medication; report drug use (non-injection and injection); exhibit higher levels of sexual compulsivity and lower personal responsibility for safer sex; and report higher rates of unprotected insertive anal intercourse, unprotected receptive anal intercourse, and unprotected insertive oral intercourse with all partners, regardless of their HIV serostatus.
Conclusion: Barebacking and its corresponding behaviors pose immediate public health risks for HIV-positive gay and bisexual men. Further work is needed to understand this phenomenon more fully in relation to the psychological, sociological, biomedical, and cultural realities.