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London event to discuss if bareback pornography is hindering HIV prevention

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  1. Simon Murphy 11 Feb 2009, 2:10pm

    I personally don’t think bare-back porn is hindering HIV prevention. I think complacency is far more at fault. Since the drug cocktails were invented in the 90’s people no longer feel HIV is a death sentence. And to a large extent they are correct. Detected early and properly treated HIV is a chronic disease like Type 1 diabetes. And it is that complacency which has also led to the increase in bareback porn.

  2. There’s a whole world of barebacking out there in every major city, the bareback porn industry simply reflects that.there are a lot of gay man who would never consider having sex without a condom and some who would never consider using condoms at all… any guy who’s been to one of london’s many many sex clubs: The Hoist, The Eagle, Back Street, The Man Bar, The Fort, Hard On, FitLadz, Central Station, Fantasy Video, the list goes on and on and then there’s all the Saunas…In all of those venues atleast 50 percent of the sex going on that you can see all around you is bareback, even the “performers” who are paid to have sex with each other or membners of the audience on stage perform without condoms. The gay porn industry simply reflects the current situation, that isn’t going to change any time soon

  3. Simon Murphy 11 Feb 2009, 2:52pm

    I wish the safe sex industry was more honest about the fact that so many gay men are barebacking and gave useful advice on how to minimise risk even if you are barebacking. The message ‘always wear a condom’ while obviously worthwhile is not working when you consider the prevalence of barebacking. Are the people who bareback (whatever their reasons may be) to be utterly ignored in the safe sex campaigns? Trying to blame the porno industry for the rise in barebacking is simply creating an easy scapegoat – it’s sort of like the safe sex industry is refusing to acknowledge that so many men are disregarding their message that they have to find an easy target – the porno industry – to blame.

  4. Ryan Haynes - fyi radio 11 Feb 2009, 3:48pm

    How do you prevent HIV transmission if you Bareback? I personally cannot see how not wearing a condom or not using one of those fanny muffs can be considered safer sex.

    But in regards to bareback – it’s everywhere, which is a pity. We can never escape it because even amateurs produce it on places like XTube.

    The result of barebacking just leads to a greater likelihood that gay men will have to spend their life’s using condoms, in or out of a relationship (well those who like myself consider health a priority). In fact, unfortunately and quite heartbreakingly I cannot ever see being in a relationship where there can be security in knowing safe sex is sex without a condom.

    We are taught to trust no-one and to assume everyone is guilty….well I guess that’s the World today!

  5. While I don’t think the porn industry is exclusively at fault, I think it does contribute to the idea that bareback sex is OK. I hear what Simon is saying about easy scapegoats, but i think everyone has a role to play here, and seeing as how a lot of gay men pick up their sex-ed from porn (let’s face it, we didn’t get much sex ed regarding gay sex at school) it does add to the tide of complacency if there’s a constant re-enforcement of the idea that bareback is consequence free. I think it’s something everyone should take personal responsibility for, not just schools and sex ed campaigns but the porn industry and individuals. No-one should pass the buck to someone else… it’s too important. Lives can still be torn apart, regardless of improvements in medication. It can effect your job, your lovelife, your family and your long-term health.

  6. Simon Murphy 11 Feb 2009, 4:16pm

    Ryan – you say that we are taught to trust no-one and to assume that everyone is positive. I agree with that statement. But I also think that’s the source of some problems with the safe sex message. It ignores the fact that current HIV treatments mean that realistically gay men who are diagnosed with HIV today have a life expectancy of 30 or more years (assuming they stick to their routine) which is about the same as other chronic illnesses. HIV is no longer regarded as a death sentence. That more than porn is leading to the rise in barebacking. In fact the safe sex industry could be taking tips from the bareback porn industry ie telling people that to come outside your partner is safer than coming inside him (whether you use a condom or not). The safe sex industry is still working from a mentality that a HIV diagnosis is an automatic death sentence. That might make their message irrelevant to an audience which knows better (and yes I am well aware that a HIV diagnosis is not easy but it is certainly more manageable than it was 20 years ago).

  7. The porn industry as a whole IS part of the problem of rates of HIV infection and could be part of the solution. Unfortunately, porn wholesalers, retailers and their customers will often pay more for ‘bare-back’ porn and often simply just not buy safe-sex porn at all from the small amount of porn producers that only offer ‘safe-sex’ porn. There is good ‘safe-sex’ porn out there but the distibutors (you know who they are) actively stifle this type of production. Most of us as individuals can make an informed choice regarding safe-sex and I wouldn’t judge anyone who prefers bareback to safer, but there are many people who can’t make an informed choice. The prevalence and growing ‘acceptance’ of bareback porn just makes the situation worse.

  8. Simon Murphy 11 Feb 2009, 10:50pm

    I don’t agree that the rise in bareback porn is as a result of distributors and retailers refusing to buy products from the ‘safe only’ producers. I think it is simply as a result of market demand. In the 90’s only safe sex movies were made or purchased – people were scared and it was deemed too irresponsible to sell these. The rise in bareback porn has coincided with the improved HIV treatments. They sell because people want to watch them. But I certsinly don’t think the rise in barebacking should be placed on the doorstep of the porno producers. They are reacting to what’s happening in the gay world.

  9. While I don’t think that bareback porn is entirely to blame with the increase in gay men practising unsafe sex – although I certainly think it contributes, as Flapjack said, to young gay men’s perceptions of sex – there is the issue of safety to the performers that needs to be raised.

    If we have a legal porn industry in the UK, then surely it needs to comply to the Health & Safety at Work Act? In which case, all performers should wear condoms. These men are vulnerable to HIV and STI infection and really need to better protected by pornography producers.

    I also agree that complacency does feed ignorance as Simon says, although it would be interesting to see how many men with the “Oh, it’s just like a chronic disease, isn’t it?” attitude actually know an HIV+ person? If they did, they would know that while it is a manageable condition, it still shortens life expectancy, they would have to use drugs with horrendous side effects and then there’s the social stigma associated with the condition.

    Universal HIV testing in A&E and GP surgeries ought to be the next step in the prevention of HIV transmission, as it will raise greater awareness among the public and perhaps the third who do not know they have will finally be made aware.

  10. Simon Murphy 12 Feb 2009, 12:53pm

    Andrew – you say: “it would be interesting to see how many men with the “Oh, it’s just like a chronic disease, isn’t it?” attitude actually know an HIV+ person? If they did, they would know that while it is a manageable condition, it still shortens life expectancy, they would have to use drugs with horrendous side effects and then there’s the social stigma associated with the condition.”

    How does that differ from diabetes? That too is a manageable condition which shortens life expectancy; has horrendous side effects (not from the medication but from the illness itself) and there is also a social stigma (‘Oh he was fat and lazy so what do you expect’). I don’t think it is in ANYONE’S interest to promote the idea that HIV is somehow worse than other chronic conditons which will eventually kill you. I know both diabetics and HIV+ people and find it extraordinarily disrespectful when people claim diabetes is ‘easier’ to live with. I don’t agree with the victim categorisation that is foisted on people with a HIV diagnosis. They have a chronic illness which if they neglect it they will die. That is no better and no worse than any other chronic illness.

    As for the idea that the porno producers are not protecting their performers – well while I agree with that I would also remind you that these performers are not forced to perform bareback. They bear more responsibility for the protection of their own health as the producers

  11. Simon Murphy 12 Feb 2009, 1:01pm

    And of course if people refused to buy the bareback porn then it would no longer be made. In fact the producers would probably prefer that as the bareback films are more expensive to make as the performers charge more for their services. It reappeared on the market after a 15 years absence not because some vile producer decided to exploit some youngsters. It reappeared ONLY because customers started demanding to see it.

  12. christian Marshall 12 Feb 2009, 3:14pm

    I will be one of the Pannel tomorrow night. I just wanted to say that as a porn producer, wheras the cost of a film for me is often £20K including distribution, the costs in my budget for providing models with condoms is about £20. I have never shot a film without condoms and never will when HIV is still a risk. I don’t wish to criticise the part of the industry that doesn’t use condoms, but would say that we should all consider the effect on viewers and sex education of a constant stream of twink bareback porn, which doesn’t do anything to communicate the reality of living with hiv

  13. a) How widespread is the phenomenon?…
    b) are the rates of new infections zero or nearly zero for sex partners taking part in the phenomenon?… of the strategy of “Let’s get tested TOGETHER BEFORE we have sex, for A VARIETY of STDs.” Sexual health checkups reduce ambiguity and can be like anything else POTENTIAL sex partners do together.

  14. thezak – That’s a great idea in theory, but in practice it takes 3 months for anyone newly infected with HIV to be detectable in a blood test. You could be tested today and be fine, then in 3 months it suddenly shows up on a subsequent test. That’s the danger with HIV… the incubation period is longer than many other diseases. Add to that sexual indiscretions and there is always a risk.

  15. Lee Nelson 13 Feb 2009, 4:12pm

    At the end of the day even safe sex i.e the condom is not 100% safe.. it’s only 99% effective against pregnancy so similar figures will apply. Admittedly bareback is opening up a bigger risk but why are we wasting time, effort and resources debating who’s to blame.. Why are these resources not employed to fight the infection, to eradicte it or nulify it.. i’m sorry but there is so much talk about who’s to blame and whats to blame. it actually reminds me of the early days when it was called ‘The Gay Plague’ and any gay person was classed as being responsible for the infection.

  16. Sister Mary Clarence 14 Feb 2009, 8:33pm

    The going rate for starring, if that be the word, in a bare back porn film is London at the moment is about £500 having spoke to an number of people I know who have done it.

    The rate is so low I believe because it isn’t proving difficult to find people willing to do it and certainly all the people I know who h
    ave done it are already HIV positive and (I think) have had to sign a declaration to that effect before taking part.

    The increase in bareback porn is probably linked in someway to the now huge prevalence of HIV on the London scene.

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