With the passing of another World AIDS Day it is perhaps inevitable that we should stop and reflect on the purpose of the day. HIV rates continue to rise and there is an apparent growth in the number of ‘gay’ men barebacking. With each December 1st, funds are raised and some HIV.AIDS stories appear in the media that might otherwise be overlooked. We also see people wearing red ribbons and a few plucky activists might wave a few banners in urban areas for an hour or two. This is not to criticise these activities, but to recognise them for what they are. Worthy but limited efforts. If a man attends one of these events, wears his red ribbon, contributes funds and then goes to a sauna and has unprotected sex it does make the whole thing somewhat futile.
Many men love to bareback. They love the feel, love the experience and as long as a condom gets int he way of that experience, the condom is not going to win. I am increasingly of the view that only a vaccine will lead to the end of HIV/AIDS. I don’t think ‘awareness’ will change things and the more we preach and condemn those men who do bareback, the more pointless these campaigns will appear. Of course, there are also those men who deliberately seek to transmit HIV and that’s a separate and more complex issue that I’m exploring in a forthcoming article.