The ‘Bug Chasers’ Who Actually Want To Get HIV/AIDS

“[Bug chasers] are reaching out for some kind of intimacy. They want to feel accepted and a part of something. It’s a distorted way of exploring how you can become intimate with someone else.” —Antoine Douaihy

In A Nutshell

“Bug chasing” is a term used to describe a person who pursues sex with an HIV-infected individual. It is classified as a form of self-harm and has been reported in gay communities. In some cases, people seek out AIDS in order to fit in, please a sexual partner, or simply for thrills. To date, it is not fully understood why people do this or how to prevent it.

The Whole Bushel

In 2009, Rolling Stone Magazine published an article that suggested gay and bisexual men were actively seeking partners with HIV in order get the disease. The article described the practice as being “intensely erotic” and the “ultimate taboo and most extreme sex act left.” However, the same article has been criticized for glamorizing the subject. According to the magazine, 25 percent of all new, gay male infections in the United States may be due to bug chasing. However, the actual percentage is probably around 1–2 percent.

In the last couple years, the practice of bug chasing has started to spread over social networking and been reported by the media. Some people have even claimed that HIV will give them a better quality of life because of the medication. One individual, Nick, is quoted on Facebook: “Tested positive on 21st September and totally loving it! Wanna share with any chasers, CD4 is 971, VL 100,000 – nice and toxic!”

Simon Prytherch, of the Elton John Aids Foundation has tried to educate people on bug chasing and said: “This practice is very scary and highly irresponsible. What we are seeing are cases of treatment failure and then rapid decline in health.” Despite the danger, people continue to seek AIDS in certain situations. A bug party is an event that involves a large collection of HIV-positive men having intercourse with one uninfected man, or a large collection of clean individuals and one HIV-positive man. Dr. Gerald Schoenewolf has said of bug chasers: “They want to feel accepted and a part of something.”

Show Me The Proof

Barebacking and bug chasers: expressions of an HIV subculture
The Body: Chasing Bugs or the Truth?