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Things to know about barebacking

If you think you’re HIV negative

Life, love and sex can be complicated enough without adding HIV to the mix. Talking to men with HIV you’ll find nearly all would rather be HIV negative. Guys with HIV often have to deal with:

  • gossip and prejudice.
  • family and friends getting to know you have HIV.
  • time in hospitals, life-long treatment and its side-effects.
  • getting sick with minor and life-threatening illnesses.

And each year over a hundred gay and bisexual men in the UK with HIV die.

If you’re HIV positive

You might think getting HIV means the worst has already happened. But not using condoms leaves you open to other infections, different strains of HIV (that might be resistant to your meds) and the risk of being prosecuted for passing on HIV.

When HIV positive guys have hepatitis B or C as well, it’s called co-infection. If left untreated, liver disease caused by those viruses can be very serious, even life-threatening.

Other infections

Some sexually transmitted infections (STIs), like herpes, can’t be cured and others can do serious damage. Even easily cured STIs can cause permanent harm if not treated properly, such as damaged balls (epididymitis) or long-term health problems (such as reactive arthritis, or hard to treat prostate infections).

Whether you’re HIV positive or negative, having STIs puts strain on your immune system, making you more open to other infections or illness. And STIs make it easier for HIV to get out of one body into another: find out more about STIs and HIV.

Studies show that some serious STIs are more common among men who bareback:


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