Should You Bareback?

Should You Bareback?

Ajay asks today’s question on whether he should bareback with his HIV + partner.

What is bareback sex?

For those of you not in the know, bareback sex, also known as raw sex is condomless sex. A luxury that many heterosexual couples enjoy without the perceived fear of HIV. Of course in the Western world, HIV is more often contracted by straight people then gay people these days. Still many gay couples want to enjoy the same benefits of the skin on skin contact of their heterosexual counterparts and hence the desire by some for bareback sex.

HIV+ & Undetectable?

Now if you had asked me this question a few months back I would have said, ‘Hell No!’. However with further research and quizzing my sexual health professional friends I have changed my opinion. This is due to new research which says those people who are on antiretroviral drugs whose viral load is undetectable are extremely unlikely to pass on the virus to another person during sex. This is even lower if the HIV+ undetectable person is the bottom (receiving) partner in the sexual relationship.

So what about people who don’t know their HIV status?

Of course it is always best to ask your partner what their status is before you engage in frolicking but often people do not know that until they have been tested months later. That is why taking precautionary measures is imperative.

What precautionary measures are there?

Wearing a condom is one way of protecting oneself against HIV and STIs (sexually transmitted infections). But what if a malfunction occurs and the condom breaks or you don’t have a condom on you? Then you can take PEP which is like the morning after pill for HIV. It needs to be taken within 72 hours after the incident for a month and is quite effective in preventing HIV transmission. Doctors and sexual health professionals tend to only give it to those who have engaged in risky sex with someone they suspect has or may have HIV. So that is for those who engaged in a bareback sex orgy, or drug needles were shared or they had sex with a person who told them they were HIV+. You need to act fast to make sure the pills work.  Also be warned that PEP has side effects such as nausea and stomach cramps.

What is PREP?

Prep (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis) is a pill that taken daily lowers your chances of contracting HIV up to 99%. It is available in many countries.  In the USA it is free on health insurance or up to $1,500 a month to buy.  In the UK 10,000 people have been granted the pill free each month on a scheme with certain criteria, otherwise it can be bought for an expensive price each month. Given its high success rate, many people are taking it daily to have sex without the worry of contracting HIV. However, STIs can still be contracted if had bareback sex.

What to do?

In short, be informed and prepared.  Look at all your options, which nowadays are many that have 99% success.  Have fun but also know your limits and treat people with HIV with respect and dignity.

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