AIDS and Behavior

, Volume 15, Supplement 1, pp 57–65 | Cite as

Sexual Pleasure and Intimacy Among Men Who Engage in “Bareback Sex”

  • Alex Carballo-DiéguezEmail author
  • Ana Ventuneac
  • Gary W. Dowsett
  • Ivan Balan
  • José Bauermeister
  • Robert H. Remien
  • Curtis Dolezal
  • Rebecca Giguere
  • Marina Mabragaña
Original Paper


An ethnically diverse sample of 120 mostly gay-identified men who engaged in “bareback” intercourse was recruited via the Internet in New York City. By study design three quarters of participants were HIV-uninfected and engaged in condomless receptive anal intercourse. In the course of face-to-face in-depth interviews, participants were asked what led them to have their first bareback experience as well as to continue with the behavior. Qualitative analysis identified the pivotal role that sexual pleasure and intimacy have in this population and how drives for sexual satisfaction, adventure, intimacy, and love overpower health concerns and condom use recommendations. Men interested in bareback sex use a variety of defense mechanisms to account for, justify, and exonerate their behavior. HIV-prevention interventions have paid insufficient attention to libidinal drives, a crucial element of psychological functioning.


Bareback Gay Homosexual Risk 



This research was supported by a grant from the US National Institute of Mental Health (R01 MH69333; Principal Investigator: Alex Carballo-Diéguez, Ph.D.).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alex Carballo-Diéguez
    • 1
    Email author
  • Ana Ventuneac
    • 2
  • Gary W. Dowsett
    • 3
  • Ivan Balan
    • 1
  • José Bauermeister
    • 4
  • Robert H. Remien
    • 1
  • Curtis Dolezal
    • 1
  • Rebecca Giguere
    • 1
  • Marina Mabragaña
    • 1
  1. 1.HIV Center for Clinical & Behavioral StudiesNew York State Psychiatric Institute and Columbia UniversityNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.Center for HIV Educational Studies & Training (CHEST)Hunter College of the City University of New York (CUNY)New YorkUSA
  3. 3.Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health & Society, La Trobe UniversityMelbourneAustralia
  4. 4.School of Public Health, University of MichiganAnn ArborUSA

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