Behavioral patterns, identity, and health characteristics of self-identified barebackers: Implications for HIV prevention and intervention

Perry N. Halkitis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


These analyses are part of a larger study designed to investigate the developmental, behavioral, and sociocultural lives of gay and bisexual men who identify as barebackers. Weexamined the sexual behaviors of these men, as well as the relation of these behaviors to matters of identity and perceived benefits of barebacking. Of the 102 men who completed the study, about half reported barebacking with main partners and 92% reported barebacking behaviors with casual partners whom they met in a variety of social venues. The frequency of these behaviors with casual partners (but not main partners) varied across serostatus of participant and the serostatus of his partners. Identification as a barebacker was unrelated to the frequency of these sexual acts. This sample of self-identified barebackers perceived greater benefits to barebacking than a more general community- based sample. Although previous research has contended that intention is central to the construct of barebacking, only half of our sample indicated that they understood the construct in these terms. It appears that gay and bisexual men, despite their identification as barebackers, incorporate harm reduction strategies with regard to this behavior which is guided by their perception of risk related to specific sexual acts, as well as the seroconcordance of their casual sexual partners. Our findings suggest that barebacking is a construct that is only beginning to be understood, and that more detailed understandings of this construct are needed to disentangle the meanings that gay and bisexual men ascribe to this behavior, including the relationship between both individual and partner serostatus.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)37-48
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of LGBT Health Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 12 2007


  • Barebacking
  • Gay/bisexual men
  • Identity
  • STI
  • Unprotected sexual behavior

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology


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