Safe Sex - Raw Truth and PrEP

Gay Men And Bareback| Gay Sex And Bare Backing

Bare Backing And Unprotected Gay Sex | Raw Sex With Gay Asses

When people think of hard core sex, one of the first things that people think of is bare back sex. From there, they might think of fetish sex, or BDSM and domination sex. The idea behind this is that hard core sex is often seen to be about the pushing of boundaries on the sexual spectrum. Why is hard core sex seen in this light? Hard core sex should simply about the engagement of penetrative sex as opposed to foreplay, and romance. There are certain connotations about hard core sex which need to be addressed, and that’s in relation to bareback.

The popularity of bareback sex is undeniable. Part of that arousal towards raw and unprotected sex is the sense that it is considered to be so taboo. For decades now, since the AIDs crisis of the 19080’s we have been told and coded to engage in safe sex without fail. Even the idea of having sex with your boyfriend is often considered to be on the fringes of safe sex. We are instilled with ideals that mandate us into not trusting our monogamous partners – you never know when he might slip up and put you at risk. Which plays into the whole idea that gay men are promiscuous creatures and willing to engage in sexual activity, and drop their pants with virtually every person that the meet. Which, as we know, is nowhere near the truth.

 

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So what is it about bare backing and the judgement that surrounds it? For the most part, if I am single I rarely engage in bareback sex and then it’s for a specific reason. Though I will acknowledge that I still engage in such unsafe sexual practices. My practicing of safe sex means that when describing myself I will generally attribute it to ‘always playing safe’ even if I am stretching the truth by a little. I won’t deny that there have been times when I’ve played raw due to sheer horniness and lust, and the idea of a few condom-free strokes seems reasonable only to find yourself condom free from start to orgasm. What can I say, I’ve never partaken in a chastity lifestyle and rather than engage in the flashlight vs tenga masturbator debate, I’m more prone to go out and find an equally hungry and lustful male to have sex with.

It’s incredibly easy to say that you’re still a good boy when you haven’t been slapped on the wrist with a diagnosis. You get stressed, you go to the doctor for your check up, and you wait for the results. You get the all clear and you thank your lucky stars, your admired diva’s and all things religious and otherwise that you haven’t been caught. You make the promises to yourself that you’re never going to do it again, you go straight out and buy a bunch of condoms and lubricant for your new life of sexual responsibility and safe sex. Alternatively you join the covenant, declare yourself a chaste male, wait three weeks until you’re horny again and denounce all claims to becoming a religious figure.

Either way, you wait until your next encounter, until you’re consumed by lust, and he kneels in front of you all puppy and doe eyed, wriggling his ass seductively and begging you to do it raw because he had a test last week. You justify it by saying sure, too much effort to put a condom on there’s not much risk me getting it as a top and boom – the cycle starts again.

However, just because you’re one of the lucky ones that are still negative, doesn’t mean that that can’t change in the future. It is this fear, and the acknowledgement of this potential future failing, which drives people to seek out Truveda. Truveda is a drug manufactured by Gilead that for a number of years has been effectively used in the treatment of HIV but in 2012 it became approved as a Pre-Exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) used to help protect negative status individuals from picking up HIV. For some people, the introduction of this drug has been a godsend; these people include bare backing enthusiasts, for sex workers, for serodiscordant relationships (With one positive, and one negative individual). For other people, there’s some grey area as to where they sit. They’re not necessarily an individual that regularly engages in a bare backing lifestyle, and therefore the contraction of HIV for them is not a primary fear of sexual activity. The taking of Truveda, for those people, can be difficult to justify.

I’m not going to lie in the sense that I don’t always practice safe sex, and it is for that reason why I would consider the use of Truveda. This ideal is also acknowledged by the University at Buffalo's Director of Humanities Institute Tim Dean. Dean, in his book unlimited intimacy, states that the idea of PrEP requires an acknowledgement of the individual using it that they want, desire and will have raw and unprotected sex. Shroud it in whatever sugar coat that you like; such as a preventative measure, means of protection, and peace of mind – but at the end of the day the use of PrEP requires the understanding that you, as a sexually active individual, will engage in unprotected sex.

Indeed, one of Deans major points in his book what that the increasing of risk for sexual activity makes the activity more inherently exciting and arousing. In this fashion, he believes that agencies and organisations that promote safe sex and risk reduction are essentially missing the point regarding the arousal of unsafe sexual practices. The risk then lies in the acknowledgement that people want raw sex, that they want to engage in bare backing because it then goes against everything that they have been taught; that they will dutifully engage in safe sex always, that they will engage in a risky sexual practice which even the majority of gay people within the community have since codified as immoral and dirty. With this in mind, the challenging aspect of taking Truveda isn’t about unsafe sex, it’s about owning up to your fantasies of bare backing even when you are not driven by the lust and desire of a hard cock.

 

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It is for this reason why the recent coverage of Truveda has questioned the usage reports of the drug. The New York Times wrote an article which reported that nearly 2000 thousand people had taken PrEP between January 2011 and March 2013, and the report stated that almost half of them were women. Why then were gay men not taking up the drug?  Mark Joseph Stern, a reporter for the slate, asked that exact question and answered it through the suggestion that ‘the fault lies squarely in the gay community’ He went further to note that the most vehement opponents of the drug were AIDS activists – the AIDS Healthcare foundation even went so far as to lobby the FDA in an attempt to get the drug rejected arguing that the presence of the drug in society would actually increase the rates of infections as people would falsely believe that they were protected and no longer engage in ‘safe sex’

There is truth in that in so far as it’s much easier to go on believing that you’ll always engage in safe sex practices, than acknowledging your tendency to engage in unsafe sex at times. There is a certain mindset that you’re a promiscuous male if you need Truveda, and few people are willing to admit both that they like bareback sex, and that they’re going to engage in unsafe sex even if they have the choice.

There are, in some circles, stigmas attached to taking the drug. If you’re on Grindr, which has recently allowed a status change to indicate that you are taking PrEP on your profile, then people will automatically assume that you are a slut. Indeed, I was surfing on Grindr one night, where a male challenged me as to why I was taking Truveda. Little did he know that he had had a conversation with me several weeks prior in where he admitted that he was wired and ready for raw sex. I politely refused him at the time. On one hand the ‘attention’ didn’t bother me. Once you acknowledge and accept who you are as a person, then very little else matters in the way of that, and the interpretations of your expressions and activities from other people become far less important when you know the truth, and have already justified it to yourself. I have called myself a man whore before, and I was not shocked or embarrassed by having that accusation pointed at me.

The issue with Truveda, is that in taking the pill you are assuming a baseline level of responsibility. Arguments against the pill centre on its effectiveness. The information around its effectiveness has often been deemed confusing, and that’s as a direct results of the studies of PrEP. Two figures are most commonly thrown around; the first figure is being 99% effective, and the second figure being around 40% effective. The lower effective rate was actually mentioned in the American FDA press release, which was announcing that HIV drug Truveda had been approved as a PrEP drug in 2012. Both of the figures were gathered from the same report, so what gives?

 

 

The difference can be accounted for quite easily and it centres around one thing; the frequency of use and whether the pill was taken every single day at the same time. The reason why there was such a disparity in the figures was that even though for those people that took the pill every single day there was a 99% effectiveness rate, almost of the people involved in the trial did not take it reliably. With that in mind, statistically, when analysing the data and encompassing the entirety of the group, it was impossible for the results to indicate a higher than 50% effectiveness rate because people were not taking the drug as instructed. It was only when the researchers assigned to the study identified individuals who had taken the drug as instructed, through interviews, checking of prescription records that they found there was a 74% effectiveness. When they restricted that group to only include people that had taken it daily, through analysing the level of the drug in their system, they could they determine the 99.9% effectiveness.

This question of perfection is what causes the drug to be so divisive. There is little doubt that Truveda, when taking responsibly, and regularly, will diminish the contraction rates of HIV significantly. People say though, that this is the reason why they are so fundamentally against it, for the single reason that there is no way to determine if people are going to take it at the same time every day. This is the belief of AIDS Healthcare Foundation president, Michael Weinstein. The foundation has been extremely vocal about their Anti-Truveda stance. You’ll notice through analysing the Aids Council of NSW in comparison to the foundation the differences in how they approach their safe sex practices. Whilst ACON has a support page for living with HIV, you’ll very quickly notice that the AIDs Foundation’s primary concern is the prevention of HIV through safe sex practices with the bottom line being the prevention of HIV.

This goes back to the argument about the psychological aspects of taking Truveda and for it to be effective, you need to acknowledge your own risks, sexual behaviours and fantasies. You simply cannot have an approach of stop all unsafe sex, because it simply isn’t going to work. Weisnstein and co, consistently argue that the taking of PrEP ill increase unsafe sexual practices because it will lull people into a false sense of security.

Contrasting this image was a study which was led by the University of California, San Fran Cisco. This study interviewed individuals taking Truveda and were HIV negative about their sexual behaviour, and at the same time tested them for syphilis as well as HIV. The results concluded that the taking of Truveda did not increase risk of infection. In fact, in surprising news, the evidence concluded that the risks and rates of infection actually went down. This research was backed up by a research associate at the Harvard Aids Institute which suggested that individuals sexual behaviour at the conclusion of clinical trials and whom were still on PrEP were found not to have had their sexual behaviours and engagement of risk behaviour significantly altered. In other words – even when they were on PrEP there wasn’t a sudden increase in the way of, oh wow I’m invincible, let’s have as much unprotected sex as we want!

 

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It’s very clear that people want to engage in ‘hard core’ sexual behaviour, bondage sales at popular sex shops have sky rocketed since fifty shades of grey, and more diverse sexual behaviour is being brought to the mainstream.. We have now learnt that there is a very clear disparity between what people fantasise about, and what they deem to be safe sexual practices. We have also learnt that people will continue to engage in those unsafe sexual practices. There is a certain fetish in risky behaviour. It is why porn such as boundinpublic, and outdoor public sex is so popular, not to mention bareback sex.

Perhaps the idea and fetishization of gay sex as being taboo stems from our history and the necessity to hide that behind closed doors for fear of retribution. I have been on PrEP for several months now. I used to engage in unsafe sexual practices on a semi regular level. Whilst some people have suggested to me that by taking Truveda I will suddenly be in a position whereby I am taking loads of sex in seemingly never ending series of orgies, sex parties and random encounters from dating websites – this hasn’t actually occurred. Yes, I now have a greater time period in which I can make the suggestion that they put on a condom, or that I put on a condom but for anyone that feels that Truveda is an incentive to engage in barebacking sex, would be incorrect from my own personal perspective.

I enjoy bareback sex, I enjoy the feeling and the sensation as opposed to condom sex, but despite taking Truveda there has been no significant changes in my sexual lifestyle. It’s true, I’ll admit it, that sex without condoms is just better. The best sexual experiences that I have had, where I’ve learned new things about gay culture and helped me understand, was with raw and unprotected sex.

Truveda, at its core, is about bare backing. It’s about providing the ability to engage in the most taboo acts of gay sex, unprotected. And despite all this, despite that sense of freedom and sensory delight – not much has really changed. Except the acceptance, awareness and understanding of myself; I like gay bare backing.


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