Barebacking and sexual health in the French setting: "NoKondom Zone" workshops.

Published: April 23, 2012


Abstract Barebacking has been, since its emergence in the 1990s, a very controversial issue, and has as many definitions as authors writing about it. In France, sexual risk reduction strategies have been very contentious, and the advent of the bareback phenomenon increased this conflictual situation. This state of affairs has prevented the identification of needs and development of adequate programs for people not using condoms. In December 2008, a peer sexual health workshop, organized on a monthly basis and taking place over 1 year was launched and facilitated by a group of people who declared not using condoms (n approximate = 15). These workshops were hosted and organized by AIDES, the largest French HIV/AIDS community-based organization. The main objective was to create a safe place for exchanging about sexuality and health concerns. Most of the participants, who were mainly HIV positive, referred to being discriminated against in healthcare settings and in the gay community because of prevention policies and stereotypes about barebacking. This experience was extremely challenging for group members, for the facilitator and for the organisation. Main results show that taking part in the groups allowed participants to break their feelings of isolation, to discuss risk reduction strategies and, in some cases, to improve communication with medical staff. Besides, a political dimension related to implementing this kind of intervention was discussed. Participants declared that, in one way or another, they were more in need of this support than people not taking risks. Further interventions are needed in order to compare and contrast the present results

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