Canada
3 min

For bareback, how to fuck more safely

Reducing risk for those who do it raw

For heterosexuals, sex with condoms is considered an unfortunate but sometimes necessary exception to the otherwise natural norm. Whereas for gay guys, sex without condoms is considered a pathological deviation from the only acceptable option.

This double standard — instinctual for the straight crowd but demonic when done by gay dudes — creates a hell of a lot of pressure, guilt and fear.

Studies show that a majority of Canadian men who have sex with men use condoms consistently. That kind of behavioural change in just 25 years is amazing and we don’t get enough credit for it.

We’ve been degraded as too horny to change, too reckless to bother, and too high or drunk to put a condom on even if we wanted to. We’ve been called bug chasers and gift givers. We’ve been written off as having a self-sabotaging death wish because our psyches are so damaged by homophobia. The death wish excuse has even been used to justify why health care dollars are wasted on us. It’s all bullshit.

Let’s be very clear. The Canadian AIDS Society classifies anal sex without condoms as a high-risk activity for HIV transmission. The overwhelming majority of HIV transmissions between two guys happen during anal sex without condoms and there is no way around this.

And living with HIV ain’t a walk in the park — whether you’re dealing with diarrhea, social stigma and, eventually, a truncated life expectancy.

The Canadian AIDS Society also says: “Any notion that the top partner in anal sex has a low risk of infection is untrue. Although more cases of transmission have been attributed to the bottom partner, the number of infections among tops is significant enough to make this a high-risk activity.” Deny it if you want to, but them’s the facts.

I get a lot of flack for giving guys harm-reduction tips if they choose to have anal sex without condoms. I’m told there is no such thing as safer barebacking. I’m told that guys who know the risk and still choose to do it raw get what they deserve — that I’m sending a dangerous message and undermining decades of prevention work.

It amazes me how most of us easily agree on some basic ways to reduce the (quite remote) risk of oral sex, yet so many are unwilling to even consider parallel methods for anal. Most gay dudes know it’s better not to brush or floss about an hour before and after giving head. Is it really so farfetched that eating a barrel of peanuts before bottoming could leave your ass in rough shape?

The staunch refusal to consider multiple harm-reduction techniques for anal sex leads to higher rates of HIV. It’s no different than George Bush and the pope telling folks to abstain from sex before marriage and always be faithful after. The presumption that you alone know the single solution that will work for all people is condescending, paternalistic and responsible for millions of deaths. Enough.

The tips below won’t change the high risk nature of anal sex without condoms, but employing some of them can keep your good times at the lower end of the high-risk category.

  • Don’t ask if he’s “clean.” Ask when he was last tested and what the result was. Better yet, offer him that info about yourself.
    HIV is mostly shared by people who don’t know their status, not people who know they are HIV-positive. If he says he’s HIV-negative but hasn’t been for a test recently, he doesn’t know his actual status. If one of you is HIV-negative and one is HV-positive, talk about viral load together. If you’re both poz, you may not have the same strains of the virus or the same reactions to meds.
  • Get tested for other sexually transmitted infections (STIs). STIs make HIV-positive men more infectious and HIV-negative men more vulnerable to infection. The most common symptom of STIs is to show no symptom at all.
  • Use lots of lube. Tons of lube. Lube reduces friction, which reduces the number of micro-tears in the sensitive tissue in your ass. Tears give an entryway to the blood stream.
  • The lining of the ass is delicate and can be damaged easily. Let your top know how hard you want to ride him once you’ve relaxed the muscles in your butt. And barebacking after fisting or rough toy-play increases risk.
  • It’s safer to pull out before cumming. Pull out right before and watch your load spray all over his back. Tell him how you want him to blow his load in your face.
  • For those who know their status: HIV-negative guys might choose to fuck rather than get fucked. HIV-positive guys might choose to get fucked rather than fuck.
  • The longer and harder the fuck, the bigger the risk. Foreplay makes you a better lover!
  • Try to avoid poppers when barebacking. They dilate blood vessels in the rectum, increasing blood exposure while you fuck.
  • Don’t douche right before or right after bottoming.
  • Get vaccinated for hepatitis A and B. It’s free for gay guys in Ottawa.
  • You don’t have to bareback with everyone. For dudes who like the intimacy of not using condoms, get that rush with one regular guy and use protection with the rest.