Op-ed: Hooking Up and HIV/AIDS When You're Zero Feet Away

Two researchers venture to understand how app-based hookups are keeping HIV rates high among young men.



All things considered, many gay and bisexual men are undeniably knowledgeable about HIV and AIDS but still participate in risk-taking activities. Our participants were certainly clear: Men do not like condoms, and men are led by powerful and deep cognitive factors. Right now HIV prevention is based on providing HIV education, distributing condoms, encouraging safer sex, and teaching people behavioral strategies to facilitate decision-making. There is a clear discrepancy between the reasons why men engage in unprotected anal intercourse and the way prevention initiatives attempt to address risk behaviors.

Generations of HIV/AIDS workers have been distributing condoms to men who clearly do not like how condoms feel. Researchers have created cognitive tools to approach men who report being driven by impulsive needs, which, by definition, cannot be rationally controlled. One researcher suggested that prevention programs should be multifaceted and address psychological, emotional, and behavioral aspects of barebacking. The survey reached similar conclusions for gay and bisexual men on mobile apps. The hurdle isn’t necessarily a lack of knowledge. The hurdle is facing complicated variables that come into play during sexual encounters, which appear to be primarily emotional experiences rather then mechanical behaviors.



RENATO BARUCCO is the head of the Transgender Family Program at the Community Healthcare Network in New York City. He manages general medical care and HIV care for special populations and creates behavioral interventions to promote healthy behaviors. 

LUIS FREDDY MOLANO, MD, is the vice president for HIV programs for the Community Healthcare Network. He has been published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine and WPATH, a transgender health forum. He is also the cochair for both the Bronx and Brooklyn Knows Testing Campaigns.


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