chn-logo-200px-60pxCommunity Healthcare Network published a report, Zero Feet Away: Perspective on HIV/AIDS and Unprotected Sex in Men Who Have Sex with Men Utilizing Location-based Mobile Apps, which “found a large sample of gay and bisexual men who are undeniably knowledgeable about HIV/AIDS, possess skills to talk about it, and yet in many cases participate in risk-taking activities.”

Although the vast majority of the men surveyed are from the United States of America, it may be a piece of research that should be replicated by charities working in the area in Northern Ireland. The survey on which the report was based has some statistics which are interesting. I had heard of some of the mobile apps but not all of them.

The preferred mobile app utilized to meet sexual partners was Grindr (63.2%), followed by Scruff (57.6%), Manhunt (35.1%), and Growlr (29.3%). Other apps utilized included Facebook, Recon, Jack’d, OkCupid, Twitter, Mister, Adam4Adam, BareBackRT, and others (see Figure 1.)

Zero Feet Away, Figure 1, Community Health Network.
Mobile apps used by Men who have sex with Men who were surveyed for Zero Feet Away report.

Barebacking is defined as unprotected anal intercourse. The majority of respondents (42.0%, n=218) believe barebackers are well informed about HIV and aware of the risks.

“Benefits” of Barebacking?

The survey proposed perceived and potential benefits of barebacking:
• Barebacking is “hotter” than sex with condoms (62.2%);
• Barebacking is sexier than sex with condoms (44.7%);
• Barebacking increases intimacy between men (42.4%)

It is clear that the many HIV/AIDS workers who have been handing out condoms have been handing them to men who do not like how they feel. The report concludes that

It appears that the issue is not so much lack of knowledge or lack of awareness but the complicated variables that come into play during sexual encounters, which appear to be primarily emotional experiences rather then mechanical behaviors.

Further information

Zero Feet Away (