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AKA bare, bb, raw, breeding.

Hanky code

Dark blue with white spots (the colour for fucking, with the spots meaning cum).

What’s barebacking?

Barebacking can mean:

  • when men make a conscious decision to fuck without condoms
  • any unprotected fucking, even when it’s an accident or later regretted
  • unprotected fucking only between men assumed to have HIV
  • any unprotected fucking, including between men who don’t know their HIV status, between two HIV negative men and/or within relationships.

Some men describe themselves as barebackers as part of an identity they’re proud of.

Here we’ll use barebacking to mean any fucking without condoms, regardless of who’s doing it or in which situation.

Barebacking and effective HIV treatment

If you have HIV, a number of studies have proven that if you’re taking HIV medication as prescribed and have an undetectable viral load, you can’t pass HIV on to your partner, with or without a condom.

Backbacking and PrEP

Taking Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) before being exposed to HIV means there’s enough drug inside you to block HIV if it gets into your body – before it has the chance to infect you. PrEP doesn’t protect you against STIs.

How common is barebacking?

The Gay Men’s Sex Survey shows in the UK around nine out of 10 men who have anal sex use condoms some or all of the time. But it also shows around half of us had anal sex without a condom at least once in the last six months. Much of this is men in couples not using condoms with each other.

Most of the rest are men barebacking with guys they know (or at least believe) have the same HIV status as themselves, either both HIV positive or both negative. For this reason they don’t believe there’s a risk of HIV being passed on, but if you or your partner don’t know your status for sure, then this is risky. Positive guys can give each other different strains of HIV.

What’s the attraction?

Why bareback?

  • It just feels better, or closer.
  • I think we both must have the same HIV status so don’t see any risk.
  • I’ve already got HIV so see no point in condoms, and don’t worry about picking up anything else.
  • Condoms get in the way and are hard to use.
  • I live for now. I’m not into staying safe or thinking much about what’ll happen long term.
  • I feel I’ll get HIV sooner or later anyway. Once I’m HIV positive I can stop worrying about getting it.
  • My boyfriend has HIV. If I get it, that might bring us closer.
  • Men with HIV seem like a gang – one I want to join.
  • I’m more likely to bareback if I’m not feeling good about myself, or am high or drunk.

Some guys think what they’re doing isn’t risky, and that they’ll pull out before coming, or are top if HIV negative or bottom if HIV positive.

Years of being expected to use condoms has made not using them a taboo for some, and breaking taboos can have a strong erotic charge. Some guys leave this thrill for porn or fantasy; often men interested in barebacking, especially online, seem unwilling to do it in reality.

Barebacking words

Here are some words or phrases you might come across:

To breed

To come inside someone’s arse.

To poz up/to seed

To infect someone with HIV.


A man who takes a lot of cum in his arse or mouth, from one or more men.

Charged cum/seed

The semen of a man with HIV.

Bareback party

Group sex where condoms aren’t used. Possibly for men who all know they have HIV; possibly for men who all know or claim to be HIV negative; maybe a mixed HIV status group where there’s a chance HIV is passed on.

Bug chaser/bug chasing

When a man who knows/thinks/claims to be HIV negative gets sexually excited by the thought of unprotected sex with men with HIV (and maybe getting infected himself).

Gift giver/gift giving

When a man with HIV claims to be willing to pass on HIV (the gift or bug) through unprotected sex to a man who says he wants to become HIV positive.

Men claiming to be bug chasers and gift givers might just be fantasising, with no interest in doing it for real.

Last review: 18/09/2018
Next review: 18/09/2021