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Original papers

Barebacking identity among HIV-positive gay and bisexual men: demographic, psychological, and behavioral correlates

Halkitis, Perry Na; Wilton, Leob; Wolitski, Richard Jc; Parsons, Jeffrey Td; Hoff, Colleen Ce; Bimbi, David Sd

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Abstract

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.

© 2005 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.

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