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Barebacking is a term that originated in gay slang for anal sex without the use of a condom. Though this usage is still the most common, the term is now sometimes used to mean any type of penetrative intercourse without the use of a condom .
Barebacking is a form of unsafe sex which puts both sexual partners at risk of the transmission of sexually transmitted infections, most notably HIV. Unprotected sex within long-term, monogamous relationships is not usually called "barebacking".
Before the advent of the HIV/AIDS epidemic of the early 1980s, anal sex without condoms was long the norm among men who had sex with men (MSMs). When researchers encouraged condom usage as an effective way of reducing HIV transmission, the practice of unprotected anal sex quickly became taboo among the gay population and the "need" for a term to describe unprotected sex arose.
Barebacking as a practice became increasingly common again among MSMs in the mid-1990s. This has been popularly attributed to the introduction of protease inhibitors and other drugs for treating HIV infections, creating the false impression that HIV infection has become a minor problem for those infected. Another reason cited for the rise in barebacking is condom fatigue (a phenomenon in which young gay men, besieged by constant safe-sex messages, begin to eschew such practices). A third reason given for the sharp rise in barebacking is the use of controlled substances before or during sexual activity (alcohol or drugs, particularly methamphetamines); imparing judgement. For full article, see Crystal and sex.
Barebacking is controversial both inside and outside the gay community, and the practice is often blamed for new waves of STI and HIV infections among young people.
- The Body: Barebacking in the Gay Community, May 1999
- Gay Today: About Anal Sex, Barebacking: Slogans Aren't Enough, April 1998