Barebacking in Jamaica a worrying reality for me

I have been holding on to this post for a while since I wanted to be sure that what I was gathering was factual, as the post title says bare backing is a rising trend here in Jamaica despite high visibility of safer sex messages and interventions by NGOs and the Ministry of Health young gay and bisexual men especially are practising bareback sex.

The discussion came up for me over the weekend again when a young man came to me worried about the decision he had made to have unprotected sex with an older male lover who happens to be married. Following that luckily I happened to be at a get together put on by a concerned former gay rights activist who called an impromptu meeting of 13 males to discuss various issues affecting gay men here and of course the matter of HIV/AIDS came up for mention. The participants mostly in their mid twenties spoke frankly about their practices and how they did practice safer sex, but in a break out condom demonstration myself and another AIDS 101 trained individual ran with we found out, that while persons were aware of the need for a condom and the main reasons that of to stop HIV/AIDS transmission many were not knowledgeable of the other STIs. It was also surprising to hear that beliefs we thought were dead several years ago that of HIV+ people visibly showing signs before one would take condom action were still around in the minds of a younger generation who never saw the onslaught of the disease in it’s hay day.

Many of the young men continued that they preferred bareback sex due to the natural feeling and the supposed complaints by their partners of becoming flaccid after putting on a condom. Very few in the group practised or knew about enemas at all and none had ever seen an enema kit before disposable or otherwise. Few used the home remedy method that of a bottle with plain water for flushing. It begs the examination of what is required to rescue the young MSM population despite all the well intentioned efforts to capture and enthrall this group to safer sex practices.

Segway:
It’s not only homosexuals that are bareaking but str8s and bisexuals too, myths about sex with virgins to cure common Sexually translitted diseases are still alive and the whole hepephelic scene where teen girls are the object of sexual attraction by older men is still quite commonplace. Bisexual men in particular while practising safe sex with their male partners tend to not use condoms with their at home or common law female partners thus anything can happen to the obedient wife or spouse. It just boggles my mind that all we know about AIDS and safer sex individauls do not or are not able to make the concious decision to practice safer sex of abstinance for that matter for their own preservation.

As for figures the most recent MSM survey that I am aware of :

Privately I am doing my little part for spreading the word on safer sex at least persons can make informed choices, for me it must be ongoing the business of HIV/AIDS intervention especially for our up and coming excited youngsters and adolescents.

ONE MIND AT A TIME YAH.

Lata

H

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Author: GLBTQ Jamaica Moderator

Activist and concerned gay man in Jamaica with over 19 years experience in advocacy and HIV/AIDS prevention work, LGBT DJ since 1996.

2 thoughts on “Barebacking in Jamaica a worrying reality for me”

  1. This is indeed worrying.

    People don't get tested often enough, or at all. And they certainly don't use condoms with their main squeeze, because that would suggest that there isn't enough trust between them. This mindset is a recipe for a serious epidemic in Jamaica. Very few people are aware that you can carry and pass on the hIV virus for years, without having any symptoms.

    We need to find a way to get more people tested. People are not going to walk into a clinic to check if they have an STI, since people only go to the doctor when they feel something is wrong.

    We need to find a way to bring the clinics to the people. I wonder how difficult it would be to set up testing centers in shopping malls, and on plazas every now and again. I think that is likely to yield more success than traditional in clinics.

    I asked the driver of a taxi I was traveling in when was the last time he was tested for an STI… he had a puzzled look on his face, and gave no response. He had never been tested, but he is surely having sex. He entertained the other male passengers with tales of the virgins he took to the river, and the many women he now controls.

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  2. In reality negotiating condom use and getting tested, in a society in which sexual matters are a taboo topic, is an extremely difficult task for most to negotiate. This stigmatisation of sex and sexuality has indeed created an environment which is ideal for the continued spread of HIV across the society (gay, straight and bisexual or whatever box one chooses to fit in).
    I would also hazard a guess from my experiences that unprotected male on female anal sex is far more common in this society than is spoken about. Like masturbation and oral sex, people do it but they don't admit to it.
    Reality is that sex is such a complex biological urge that it often trumps logic and this makes negotiating condom use that much harder . Figures for 2006 from the Registrar Generals dept for teenaged pregnancies quoted by the Gleaner last year reported over 8000 teen girls having given birth. (http://www.jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20080622/lead/lead7.html)
    I would further add that I doubt very much that even a quarter of these cases were an issue of ignorance, failed contraception, or rape, but as a friend of mine keeps saying "when hot blood tek yu…" The fact is that bare backing is pretty damn enjoyable for both parties but until we can openly discuss our sex and sexuality with the next generation without it being a issue of morality, we don't stand a chance in hell of tackling HIV in this country.

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