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Investigation: Unsafe sex rampant on dating websites

Sat 11 Nov 2006 In: HIV View at NDHA

It's not news. The insidious spread of HIV in our gay and bi men's community is a bigger problem than ever before, with the HIV infection rate soaring year by year, from 21 new infections amongst New Zealand men who have sex with men in the year 2000, to 66 new infections last year. Recent research by the NZ AIDS Foundation suggested that gay and bi New Zealanders hooking up for no-strings sex via the internet could be a significant reason why. To test out the role internet dating is playing in destroying the health of so many gay men, a staffer registered a phony profile on a popular dating website. ‘Scotttyboy', our internet hook-up bait, is 'a 21 year old Aucklander.' We placed him in Auckland because our biggest city has New Zealand's highest concentration of gay men within a single urban area, and because Auckland is heavily over-represented in the soaring HIV infection figures. We posted a head-and-shoulders photo shot of an average-looking, boy next door type of guy, with the descriptive message "lkg for clean guys for no-strings hookups... into most things, email me for more info. The important characteristics I'm looking for: I like guys 20-40, not looking for a relationship, just casual.” "CLEAN" - A SCARY LITTLE WORD The word 'clean' is important here. It's the most common internet dating and chat codeword for being disease-free. And primarily that implies HIV-free. And it's the feeler word that not so discreetly susses out whether a person is up for bareback, or BB, sex. Sex without a condom. Unsafe sex. Very few sexually active gay or bi men who believe they are 'clean' can know for sure. Many of these men have never had an HIV test in their lives. Or, if they once tested negative for the debilitating and deadly virus, are they still negative, or 'clean?' And what other sexually transmitted diseases might they unknowingly have? What of the prospective sex partner? Just because he says he is 'clean,' does that mean he really and truly and definitely is? With the increasing pool of HIV infected men in, and on the fringes of, our community, the only rational answer is "possibly not." He might genuinely think he is 'clean' or he might even be outright lying. But since the dawn of time horny men - bi, straight or gay - have seldom been rational, and the truth can easily be stretched or disregarded during hot pursuit. It's against this uncertainty of HIV status that the NZ AIDS Foundation and other gay community health initiatives have for two decades promoted the use of condoms for penetrative sex. Every time. No exceptions. Not even for supposedly monogamous, committed couples. It's a simple message. Use a condom to protect yourself and your partner from HIV. Condoms are cheap, often free, and they work! The major gay media and all responsible gay community sex on site venues feature a changing parade of exhortations to play safely. Venues even provide free condoms and lubricant. But the internet is increasingly the wild west of sexual prowling, a place of no strings, no thought, no consequences sex. SCOTTYBOY TAKES THE PLUNGE ‘Scotttyboy' went online at 10 o'clock on a Tuesday morning. The response was immediate. Responses came in within minutes and continued for hours. Some guys emailed ‘Scotttyboy' to say hello and ask questions, to just chat. But at least half were straight to the point and up for sex immediately. The overwhelming majority who were up for sex were willing to do it bareback, either outright or with sometimes arbitrary conditions. Bizarrely, one guy said he wasn't willing to bareback, but he was still willing to put the head of his penis in and ‘shoot a load'. Huh? Still others initially claimed a commitment to safe sex but were frighteningly easily 'turned' to unsafe sex. If you've a strong stomach for eavesdropping on gay and bi New Zealand men happily planning to risk exposing themselves or their casual partner to the still-deadly, and increasingly drug-resistant, HIV infection, even getting sexually revved up by the thought of it, read on through our researcher's transcripts... A 48-year old in Eden Terrace: This guy answered "usually prefer to use a condom" when asked about barebacking, but when I didn't reply he sent another email within minutes: "that no good for you?" Now I replied, saying "I only use condoms if I have to. Should be ok if we're both clean shouldn't it?" His reply: "yeah!" A 34-year old on the North Shore: Asked if he was into bareback for a casual hookup, he replied: "BB, yeah sure why not bud. Where are you in Auckland?" He already knew the abbreviation for barebacking and was clearly ready to hook up. I stopped the conversation. A 36-year old in Manukau: Asked if he would cum in my ass, he replied "yes, can do" Can I blow a raw load in your ass too? "yes" And he wanted to make it a regular thing... said I could, but would still like to play around. Asked if that would be ok, answer "yes" He also offered to get me into group sex. A 26-year old (no location): Asked if he would cum in my ass, replied "yeah bro" A 39-year old in Mangere Bridge: I said I was into bareback, would he cum in my ass: "mmm. U into that?" Then: "yes" "love to cum inside. let me cum in you? "yes but have to b jentel at first" A 38-year old in St. Johns: He said barebacking "depends on the guy" After receiving no reply he wrote back: "so when you want to get blown and fuck me" A 28-year old in Herne Bay: "Not too sure about you not using a condom on me though man," he typed. "i like to be safe... maybe once i get to know you and know your safe then you can fuck me raw..." I persisted to try and get him to throw his tiny glimmer of caution to the wind, to go raw first time, but he held his dubious line: "i would like to be safe on the first try dude." "Thats cool, I replied, "I won't waste your time any more, buddy. have a good day." Rejection broke down what little commitment to safe sex he had. Suddenly he replied: "oh ok i give in you can bareback me if you want ok?" I stayed silent. Then a few minutes later, after receiving no reply from me, he upped the ante: "your really cute man... so come fuck me bareback." A 35-year old (no location) said: "well to be honest...would like to try bareback...but have always used condoms in the past... would have to make sure the person I'm gonna fuck is healthy as if I ever do em raw... and u... what are u into and do u like bareback??" A bisexual 36-year old (no location): Bareback – “well ive only ever done that with girls, but keen to try it if you want, id love to cum up your ass" A 47-year old bisexual married guy (no location): Would you cum in my ass? I asked. "yes would luv to... im btm curious - not doone that a lot though" A 20-year old in Herne Bay: He fronted up: "hey do u fuk raw?" "yes" "hell yeah id love too - how big r u? arent u worried about hiv" Should be ok, I fudged, if we're both clean, are you clean? "yeah i definatly am im 7.5 do u meet up with many guys? got a body pic? u look hot" A 29-year old (no location): "Hey bud all sounds good to me. Assie guy also looking fordiscreet fun, am into all things safe so if your keen get back to me" An 18-year old in New Lynn: I tried being a top: "Would you let me cum in your ass?" "yes" A 25-year old (no location): I went bottom: "Would you cum in my ass?" "Haha, nice dude, yep im into that! Im into all the usual stuff aye, and a bit kinky too I guess" A 19-year old in Parnell: Would you cum in my ass? "yeah would love to cum in your ass" He then suggested a threesome with his regular fuck buddy: "yeah of cause he would man, me n him do 3some's together, he's 28. euro, slim. smooth (shaved), 6', green eyes, shaved head, 7" uncut (really nice cock too ) so yeah let me know if your intrested man, I have to go to work soon but will be online again tonight after work, maybe we could hook up tonight if your not doing anything" I asked if his buddy is into bareback too. "yeah he does man, he loves it, so if your not up to much tonight man and u have a way of getting over this way maybe we can all hook up, watch some hot bareback porn for a while, (he's just downloaded some hot bareback porn in the last week) and yeah have some hot fun " A 35-year old in Ellerslie: Bareback? "Yeah, thats a turnon. I dont usually do that, but Im open to that." He even offered to come and pick me up A 26-year old in Manukau: Would you let me cum in your ass? "most probly.. I guesss.. iv had it dun before... i mean if we wer getn ryt n2 it and i was fucking on kl0ud9 koz of the way u were fucking me then yea.. id let u" A 21-year old in Herne Bay: Are you into bareback? "only if ur clean and hot!" "I'm keen as dude!" "I will take u bareback and raw" A 22-year old in Henderson: Are you into bareback? "lol sorry man as much as id like to i dont practice barebacking..." SCORECARD TIME! In case you're not keeping score, that's 17 guys who were eager to have unsafe sex with Scottyboy, or were incredibly easily talked into it, and only two who were fully committed to safe sex. But wait, there's more. Barebacking Scottyboy is real popular. A 26-year old in Mt Eden: "i love to fuck versatile though. not into bareback really. " Are you sure, I pressed? "yes am sure..can cum just without really geting in if that makes you happy... yeah i'll just put it right on the tip so i can cum inside yoy without getting in. If that's not barebacking, what is? I thought. A 43-year old in Ponsonby: Asked him if he was into bareback. Reply: "like this? [sends pic of un-condomed cock going into an ass]" Answer: yes. His reply: "would love to. When are you free?" Didn't reply, then got a shitty email back: "It appears you were playing a little game with me, happens often on here, Im used to it!! I knew, thats why I sent you those pics!! I got them off the net!! NO, I dont do BB!!" No BB? I replied that I was at work, sorry for not replying. He said:"Ok, thought you weer testing me!! Are you really into BB?" When I answered yes, he replied: "Yes Im very keen to pound on your hot ass if your keen!! Heres my number 021****** - txt me if your keen or reply on here and I will be back home about 5.30pm to check your reply (I have to pop out)" A 26-year old in the Central City: I asked him if he likes to fuck raw? Response: "me too. Where are you?" I want you to cum in my ass, I said. His reply: "fuck yeah - will you let me shoot my raw cum up there. do you fuck raw too? when was the last time you had some cum up your hole?" Can I cum in you too, I asked? Reply: "sure" A 26-year old (no location): Ever cum in a guys ass? "With a condom on yes" What about raw? "No sorry dude take care safe sex is best take care of yourself." SCORE UPDATE TIME! An impressive 20 for unsafe sex, a miserable 3 for safe sex, and it doesn't get any better as the hours pass... A 35-year old (no location): Into bareback? "can't say i am dude... kinda prefer to say STD-free!! hopefully u'r not putting yourself at risk like that?" A 32-year old in Te Atatu Peninsula: Into barebacking? "im good m8, fucking, oral, real bloke sex, prefer barebacking (are you safe?)whats your stats dude?"." A 24-year old in the Central City: U like to bareback? "ewww... no! and wouldn't fuck a guy that does!!" A 20-year old in South Auckland: Like to bareback? "i like it - but dnt do it much – unless i realy knw the guy" A 28-year old in the city: Into barebacking? "yeah ... as long as the guy knows what to do and I'm sure hes clean ... then its all hard and good" A 34-year old out west: Into barebacking? "bareback? not my thing dude, unless were monogamous lovers, whats the chance of that?" A 23-year old in the central city: I say I only do barebacking with guys I know. "yeah dude same" HAD ENOUGH? FINAL SCORE TIME! Unsafe 25 vs safe 5. It's clear the condom message is not getting through and, as a result, our HIV rates are continuing to rise. Scottyboy's eager bareback partners are surely just the tip of the iceberg. Scaling up from those 25 out of 30 willing barebackers, taking into account that Scottyboy went online for a limited period only whereas there are hundreds, if not thousands, of gay and bi men trawling the dating sites day after day, indicates we have a huge problem. Next weekend will ask the experts about what's going on out there, what risks these men are taking and why they seem so willing, even eager, to lay their health and lives on the line for the thrill of a quick fuck. And what can be done about it? staff writers - 11th November 2006    

Credit: staff writers

First published: Saturday, 11th November 2006 - 12:00pm

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