70 Percent of Men Find Barebacking With a Stranger ’Exciting’

by Winnie McCroy
EDGE Editor
Tuesday Apr 1, 2014

In what may be the most unnecessary study ever, England's University of Westminster recently discovered that a majority of young gay men feel that unprotected sex with a stranger is more exciting.

Pink News reported that 70 percent of young gay men surveyed in London said they believed sex without condoms is more pleasurable. The study, which interviewed 160 guys, found that 94 percent of respondents said they were more likely to have unprotected sex with a stranger if he were good-looking.

While it's no surprise that gay men like adventurous sex, the proliferation of social hookup apps like Grindr are leading to risk-taking that is causing HIV rates to skyrocket.

One HIV-positive participant, identified simply as 25-year-old Jason from London, described his "addiction" to the gay networking app Grindr in the interview with Pink News.

"I was constantly checking it meeting guys to have sex with," he said. "It became a habit and I spent all my free time and days off meeting and having sex, then going to group sex parties where I tried drugs and had long sessions of unprotected sex with guys often not aware of what was happening."

Another man, 24-year-old Daniel, said that he contracted HIV from his first boyfriend, with whom he had sex for the first time when he was 16.

"It was my own fault. I would never have imagined that my first sexual encounter could have such consequences," said Daniel. "I was in love and even though it did cross my mind, I thought he did not look like somebody with HIV."

Researchers say that Grndr and other social hook-up apps encourage users to see risky sexual behavior as the norm, via terms like NSA (no strings attached) or "chem sex."

Similar research done in the U.S. has found that nearly half of the MSM who use these apps have engaged in unprotected sex. The survey, "Zero Feet Away" Perspective on HIV/AIDS and Unprotected Sex in Men Who Have Sex with Men Utilizing Location-based Mobile Apps" was conducted by New York's Community Healthcare Network.

It reveals that although 80 percent of respondents knew how HIV was transmitted, it didn't stop more than half of them (46.6 percent) from engaging in the behavior that put them at risk for the virus.

"Clearly, we've come a long way in educating people about HIV and AIDS," Dr. Freddy Molano, Assistant Vice President of HIV Programs and Services at CHN, said in the report. "Yet among certain populations, HIV/AIDS is on the rise, and that's alarming."

Added co-author Renato Barucco: "The survey findings show a clear disconnect between the reasons why men engage in unprotected anal intercourse and the way prevention initiatives attempt to address risk behaviors."

Winnie McCroy is the Women on the EDGE Editor, HIV/Health Editor, and Assistant Entertainment Editor for EDGE Media Network, handling all women's news, HIV health stories and theater reviews throughout the U.S. She has contributed to other publications, including The Village Voice, Gay City News, Chelsea Now and The Advocate, and lives in Brooklyn, New York.


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