But are they really?
As an RN with training in public health, I have a tendency to look at statistics. When I look at them, there are some very interesting trends to notice, thanks to the CDC.
Let's get my own personal feelings out of the way. I don't bareback. Hell, I rarely have anal sex when I play in the first place. There's a reason for that - I want to stay safe and I don't want to get myself infected. Do I think everyone is infected? No. But I don't want to take the risk. The anal isn't what makes or breaks a scene for me anyway. I think there are plenty of ways to get off and feel good without taking up the butt. And if I wanted something there, there are toys for that which feel about 10,000 times better than a dick ever would to me.
That said, I know every man in the world doesn't feel the same way I do. This is evidenced by the aforementioned stats which show there has been an EXPLOSION in the rates of men who have sex with men without condoms. The interesting thing to notice is that the rates of new HIV infection among men who have sex with men, while increasing, is not increasing at a rate that corresponds with the dramatic upshot in the occurrence of bareback sex.
What gives? More bareback means more HIV passed around, right?
That's an awfully big assumption to make. Questionnaires, surveys, and research into men who have sex with men all over the country show us several key points:
1)Men are getting tested more than they ever have and are knowing their status.
2)In general, negative men are questioning their potential partners and assessing their own risk for transmission before having sex. Negative men are choosing partners who also identify as negative.
3)If a man doesn't ask or care what his partner's HIV status is, or the partner doesn't know, he often chooses to use a condom (about 80% of the time).
4)When a man finds out he is HIV positive, he (in general) discloses this information to new potential partners, and in many cases, stops having sex with men who are negative all together.
Obviously, you never know your status RIGHT NOW. You may have gotten tested three months ago, but if you had sex with someone else last week and got infected, then you wouldn't know it, if you then gave it on to someone else. And of course, not EVERY guy is honest 100% of the time, which is an awful disparity. But on the whole, men must be being pretty honest with both themselves and their sex partners about their status, because if they weren't, HIV rates would be exploding just as fast as rates of barebacking. Comparatively, they are increasing at more of a slow-to-medium crawl.
Could this mean....*gasp*....that gay men are behaving in a more personally responsible manner?
Please don't misread what I've just said. The statistics do show that pre-screening partners is safer than having annonymous sex, but pre-screening AND using condoms reduces transmission rates even further. I don't advocate barebacking, and I think it's a rather unsafe activity. On the rare occasion I do have anal sex, you can expect me to wrap it up. I don't think that companies should really go out of their way to ADVOCATE barebacking, and I applaud IML for disallowing vendors from doing so. But at the same time, I want to applaud those gay men out there who screen their partners and try to be as safe as possible, despite the fact that they don't use condoms. It's a baby step.
However, I think that if men want bareback porn, they will take one or more easy routes to get it. Additionally, I think that men are going to do what they want to do, regardless of what's sold on the shelves. Gay men do, after all, live their entire lives being harped upon about HIV and AIDS and what it does to people. You just can't escape it. There surely isn't a lack of education and knowledge out there. The bottom line is that gay men cannot have their hands held their entire lives and we can't force them to make the decision as to whether or not to wear condoms, or to have sex at all. We have to let go and realize that there's only so much education that can be done, and at the end of the day, men have to be responsible for themselves and their actions. I, personally, refuse spend the rest of my days on top of a soap box, harping on an issue until I'm blue in the face. I can think of other things, mostly of the sexual variety, that I would rather do in my spare time.
If you bareback, however, I most likely won't be doing them with you.