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Microbes in Wikipedia

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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Bugchasing". (Source - Retrieved 2006-10-03 10:03:17 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bugchasing)

Introduction

Bugchasing (or Bug chasing) is a term, invented in the $1990s$, stemming out of a subculture of gay men wanting (Chasing) to become infected with HIV. Bug chasers "chase" the bug by seeking sexual partners who are HIV positive for the purpose of having unprotected sex and having the partner change their seroconversion status.

Bug chasing as activity

Though the practice of bug chasing seems incredibly risky and, in a worst case scenario, tantamount to suicide, interviews with "chasers" have identified recurring motivations for participating in the activity. Among these motivations:

  • Some find relief from "condom fatigue", and feel that they don't have to worry about getting infected or worrying about changes in their HIV status.
  • Some believe that HIV is simply a chronic manageable disease, like diabetes, and that the new drugs promise them a long and healthy life. (Modern antiviral therapy is extremely expensive, can still have painful and unpleasant side-effects, and does not cure or ultimately stop the progression of the disease.)
  • Some couples see infecting the other partner as the deepest level of intimacy.
  • Some men report that the element of danger in sexual encounters of this kind (including the "Russian roulette" activity) adds to the "rush" of arousal.
  • There are men who, once infected, feel like they finally "belong" to a "fraternity" of infected men.

Bugchasing has largely been viewed with disdain from the gay community as a self-destructive activity. Leaders of the gay community at large are concerned that the behaviors of bugchasers may contribute to a public perception that the practice is common or encouraged by all gay people.

Press

Although "bug chasing" has been occurring for several years, the phenomenon gained press coverage - and notoriety - after Rolling Stone magazine printed an article in 2003 by a freelance journalist, Gregory Freeman, entitled "Bug Chasers: The men who long to be HIV+". The article provoked a storm of controversy, primarily because based on the statistics in the article, it suggested that the practice might be relatively common. The reliability of that article has been questioned, as it cited only two sources. One, who claimed that as many as 25% of HIV+ men had contracted it on purpose, gave his information anonymously. The other source was a doctor who, when confronted, denied the quotes attributed to him in the article.

Writer Daniel Hill outlined a scenario where such behavior might occur: "In private sex clubs across the U.S. men gather for a chance to participate in what is called Russian Roulette. Ten men are invited, nine are HIV-, one is HIV+. The men have agreed to not speak of AIDS, nor HIV. They participate in as many unsafe sexual encounters with each other as possible, thus increasing their chances to receive "the bug." These are the men known as 'Bug Chasers.'" [1]

Writer/director Daniel Bort made a 2003 short film called Bugchaser, which premièred at the 16th Annual Austin Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, on the subject, shot mainly in New York sex clubs. In an interview with the Austin Chronicle, he explained: "The matter-of-fact declarations of a string of articulate, apparently nonsensical people … affected me tremendously. I had to find out the reasons why such individuals will seek suicide in this almost symbolic way." At the Austin G&L Film Festival, the film was shown with an accompanying documentary The Gift by Louise Hogarth.

Medical response

The issue is, more recently, being taken seriously by medical health promotion bodies, such as the Centers for Disease Control, which hosted a workshop by Dr Michael Graydon of Carleton University, Ottawa, on the topic at the 2004 National STD Prevention Conference.

See also

  • Barebacking
  • Alan Bowne whose play Beirut features a character willing to be infected with HIV.

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