Acting on the desire to bareback among ‘bottoms’

Stream: HIV: Emerging strategies in prevention among MSM
Date: Friday, 1 April 2016
Time: 2.00 pm – 3.45 pm


Objective: To identify, among gay and bisexual men (GBM) that indicate they only prefer to ‘bottom’ and who enjoy barebacking, which men act on their desire.

Method: We reviewed 75,863 Australian online profiles from a popular gay dating website. 52,226 men responded to questions about their sexuality, preferred position during sex, and whether they engaged in ‘safer sex’. We excluded 39,485 men who indicated they did not enjoy ‘barebacking’, a further 4,182 who were not exclusive bottoms, and another 815 men who sought sex with HIV-positive men (as many were likely to be HIV-positive themselves). We compared the remaining 1,856 bottoms (75.1%) who did not always engage in ‘safer sex’ with the other remaining 617 bottoms who always practiced ‘safer sex’.

Results: Among these bottoms who enjoyed barebacking, those who did not always engage in ‘safer sex’ were older (36.0 mean age) and more likely to be Anglo-Celtic (85.6%) than those who always engaged in ‘safer sex’ (32.3 mean age; 75.9% Anglo-Celtic). They were also more likely to enjoy amyl (aOR=1.46) and meeting partners at porn theatres (aOR=1.51) but less likely to enjoy phone sex (aOR=0.67) or mutual masturbation (aOR=0.77).

Conclusion: The majority of GBM who only take the receptive position during sex and who enjoy ‘barebacking’ do not always restrict themselves to ‘safer sex’ in how they promote themselves online. Those who do not always engage in ‘safer sex’ tend to be somewhat older and of Anglo-Celtic background. They also prefer having sex in person, usually involving penetrative sex.


Garrett Prestage (Presenter), The Kirby Institute & ARCSHS
He has been active in gay community life in Australia since the mid-1970s. Since 1992, Garrett has worked at the Kirby Institute, and has also worked for ARCSHS since 2007. He has managed major cohort studies of gay men in Australia, has been an Investigator on the Gay Community Periodic Surveys since they commenced in 1996 and the HIV Seroconversion Study, and he regularly initiates research into sexuality, risk and community among gay men to directly contribute to gay community responses to HIV and other STIs.

Iryna Zablotska, The Kirby Institute

Feng Jin, The Kirby Institute