Risk bases in childhood and adolescence among HIV-negative young adult gay and bisexual male barebackers

Perry N. Halkitis, Daniel Siconolfi, Megan Fumerton, Kristin A. Barlup

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


We sought to consider the phenomenon of intentional unprotected intercourse, known colloquially as barebacking, with regard to identities that gay men develop as barebackers and the developmental bases that may predispose some men to this identity. As part of a larger study, we analyzed the life history interviews of 12 diverse HIV-negative men in early adulthood, using thematic coding procedures to identify events, conditions, and emotional states in childhood and adolescence that might help to explain why uninfected young men might place themselves at risk for HIV seroconversion. These analyses elicited various risk bases in childhood and adolescence, including early sexual experiences, pronounced experimentation with and abuse of drugs and alcohol, feelings of loneliness, a lack of love relationships despite sexual activity, and early experiences of loss. These findings suggest a complex interplay between emotional factors and life events, which may help to explain these men as sexual risk takers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)288-314
Number of pages27
JournalJournal of Gay and Lesbian Social Services
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 2008



  • Barebacking
  • Development
  • Drug and alcohol use
  • Gay men
  • HIV

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Sociology and Political Science

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