Barebacking: Psychosocial and Public Health Approaches Paperback – Apr 11 2006
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Many anthologies are catch-as-catch-can: if someone writes a paper even remotely related to an issue, it ends up getting published. This book, thankfully, was the opposite. The researchers peel the onion of this issue. I definitely think someone must have overseen this and told the authors, "Okay, you study aspect X and I'll study aspect Y and our colleague over there will study aspect Z." This provided for a very coherent and thoughtful compilation.
The cover shows an interracial couple, a black man and a white man, in an affectionate embrace. This may be a considerate move by the contributors to attract both men of color and white men to read this book. Gay, interracial couples may love seeing this portrayal. However, nowhere in these studies do the contributors posit that the barebacking phenomenon is especially practiced interracially. There is a chapter focused on Black and Latino men and it never implies that they consider the race of their partners when choosing to partake in this act. Thus, the cover may be misleading, even if it was chosen for altruistic reasons.
I love that the researchers are non-judgmental. There is discussion of anonymous sex, drug use, promiscuity, and other stigmatized acts that the writers never attack. However, sometimes I felt that the book implied "It's okay to bareback if it's with your primary partner." Guess what? Primary partners can catch HIV. Individuals who kick it with other men beside their primary partner can catch HIV. Thus, this is a strategy that should have been pointed to as faulty or dangerous. This book is a bit New York City-focused, but this is logical given that the city is an epicenter of American AIDS cases.
Warning: this book is all about numbers-crunching! Those who are afraid of chi squares, regression analyses, assessing standards of deviation, and all that jazz from college-level statistics classes may be afraid of this book. Still, there are chapters that have "qualitative" discussions that anyone can understand. If a numbers-hater skips the methods sections and sticks to the introduction and discussion sections, they may understand what is being said. Further, if you can get beyond the numbers, the chapters actually move very quickly. Remember, these researchers are trying to see if this phenomenon is widespread and dangerous.
I am thankful that researchers take gay men's lives seriously and want to study them. This book may actually help homophobic statisticians to overcome their prejudices.
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