"Bug Chasers:" Sexual Outlaws or Raving Stupidheads?

Prompted by this Pit thread and this Drudge report about an article coming up in the February 6 issue of Rolling Stone (penned by our own GregAtlanta), which isn’t available online yet that I can see, I’m starting this thread.

What’s it about?

“Bug chasers.”

Gay men who actively seek out HIV+ companions to have unprotected sex so they, too, can contract HIV.

So - sexual outlaws taking what they consider to be the inevitable into their own hands and owning their lives, or screwed-up psychos who have no grip on the reality of AIDS?

You decide!

Other related articles that go a little more in-depth into reasons why and the sub-culture:



When the actual article becomes available, we can post a link, but the topic is still valid.


Well, answering the title, I’d say raving stupidheads. I’ve got a friend who’s poz and has been approached by a bug chaser. He declined (assuming that the person was just crazy solely based on this topic). I’m curious if this is just a gay phenomenon or does it cross the board. Any ideas?

Disturbed individuals in need of urgent mental health intervention.

If this behavior involves more than a minute fraction of new HIV cases, societal consequences exist and have to be addressed, by public health officials among others.

Quote from Daniel Hill (alternativesmagazine article linked to above):
"Confronting my own negative judgement, I ask myself, “How dare I project my ideas of intimacy onto another.”
Dare away.

Oh, yeah, no doubt about it, definitely raving stupidheads. You know, though, it seems awfully flippant to term them such. This is such an overwhelmingly depressing decision to make, and damn it, not subject to reversal given time and contemplation. I just can’t wrap my mind around choosing to embrace a slow, painful, debilitating degrading existence leading to sure death as having anything approaching reasoned thought. I’m just left to sit and think, “wow”.
:frowning: :frowning:

Sexual outlaws sounds romantic in a rougish sort of way but I can’t think of anything positive or romantic about bug chasers. AIDS is not something that is inevitable for anyone be they gay or straight.

I suppose my initial reaction to bug chasers was one of anger and bewilderment. Wht the hell kind of sick individual would choose to become HIV+? After I calmed down a bit I felt very sorry for those people. I still don’t see them as sexual outlaws I see them as sick people who need help. They don’t deserve our scorn they deserve our pity.


Note to clarify: by degrading existence I refer to the physical deterioration common to latter stages of active AIDS.

Raving stupidheads in need of some serious counseling.

Raving Stupidheads who need to see a psychologist.

Raving stupidheads, definately. I can only hope that these unfortunate individuals don’t project their own cavalier attitude towards the disease on unsuspecting future partners.

So far “raving stupidheads” has 100% of the vote, and I’m not going to change it now. This is a… trend? phenomenon? movement? … that is literally beyond my comprehension. I don’t know if it’s more sad than scary or more scary than sad, but I hope this particular subculture passes out of fashion as quickly as possible.

How many people around the world would give, or would have given anything for a chance to be rid of HIV? I imagine that if I were afflicted with HIV I would be royally pissed that anyone would intentionally give up the health that I had lost.

There’s something sick and disgusting about purposefully seeking to contract a tragic disease that ends in an ugly death.

But if they were the only ones affected, I would say “to each his own.”

But they aren’t. What about the others they might infect in the pursuit of this goal? What about the regular schmoes paying insurance premiums based on medical costs, and who will now be indirectly paying to subsidize this wacko’s final costly and sickly days of life? What about the cost to that persons friends and loved ones? It’s everyone’s right to choose when they go out I suppose, right to life doesn’t mean much without the right to end your own life, assert ownership over your life by doing so. Still, picking such a disturbing way to do so, one that has the potential to harm others in the process, not just emotionally but financially as well…well, there’s something wrong about in my mind. YMMV.

I’m gay, and so are many of my friends. I think I’m pretty well-adjusted: ditto for my gay friends. But, alas, there’s always a certain population of self-hating gays out there. I suppose that “bug chasing” is the sort of thing that appeals to these losers.

Am I a judgmental S.O.B? I suppose so.

Are “bug chasers” raving stupidheads? Need you ask?

I disagree. It’s not your choice or mine what someone finds erotic or what kind of life they choose for themselves. I enjoy my personal sexual freedom as an American and I think it’s hypocritical to deny someone else the freedom to exercise their choices just because it’s different from what I would choose… Psyche, I’m just playing. I think they’re raving stupidheads.

On first reading the thread, my first reaction was “raving stupidheads”. But as I thought about it, I find myself leaning towards more of a midway point between that and “sexual outlaws”.

We’re all being very cavalier about dismissing the free will of bug chasers, and their right to express their sexuality in a way that they find satisfying. Picture a best case scenario: a gay man, of (relatively) sound mind, finds barebacking an HIV positive man sexually exciting, and wants to contract AIDS. He finds a willing HIV+ man and has unprotected sex until he contracts it. He then goes on to live his life as an HIV+ man, acting responsibly as such (meaning that he doesn’t hide his status from future partners).

In that case, it’s easy to say he’s basically nuts, and has committed a long, slow suicide. But it’s no longer a foregone conclusion that HIV kills–it’s possible to live productively for many years with HIV, and the state of medicine is improving all the time, especially with a disease-celebre like AIDS. Moreover, our hypothetical bug chaser can point to plenty of other risky, self-destructive or self-injuring sexual practices that a small minority practices: auto-erotic asphyxiation; extreme promiscuity; sado-masochism. There are also non-physically destructive practices that “sensible” people don’t do, but that are common, having an affair. All things that “reasonable” people agree are stupid, but that don’t rise to the level of siccing the public health authorities on them, as one poster suggested.

All this is not to say that bug chasers are somehow justified, or relatively sane about their choices. My gut reaction is still that they’re raving stupidheads. It’s just that I’m having a hard time issuing a blanket condemnation of it.

NOT THAT I AGREE WITH IT, but they do have a logic of sorts. The pervailing attitude about HIV is changing in the young gay community. They see people living a long time with the help of drug cocktails and begin to assume that HIV is merely a chronic condition, not something you’ll die from. Therefore, it’s somehow chic to have HIV. It’s like the scruffy beard look of not too long ago, or a penchance for wearing all black. It’s seen as a (essentially) harmless affectation.

I think there was an NPR show about this not too long ago, and they interviewed some of these kids. It was sad and perverse, but in a strange way, it make a kind of sense.


This can’t be happening, this must be one of those urban legend things because this can’t be happening. I can already mentally picture the Falwells and Robertsons intoning thier pious horror.

Are there straight people doing this as well? Must be, I suppose, self degrading insanity has niether gender nor orientation.

Jesus wept.

A previous article I read on this put the phenomenon down to a profound sense of guilt by some in the gay community that their friends and lovers have contracted HIV, but they haven’t. This then manifests itself into a desire to get HIV themselves - just like a mother, eg, whose baby is killed in a car crash and she wishes she could die as well.

The next step - drawing conclusions from other articles though IANAPsychologist - appears to be an eroticisation of that desire, or death wish. Perhaps sharing some ground with people who find snuff or extreme masochism erotic.

IMO these “bug-chasers” are profoundly psychologically disturbed. Both the chases and the “donors”.

Does the article mention the possibility of the bug chasers’ motivation being political? I have read all the comments saying “who are we to judge”, and I can agree to an extent. However these drug cocktails that are required to keep them alive are extremely expensive, and a significant percentage of those receiving them are subsidized by you and me. Do these people have the right to go out and seek a disease that others must pay for? As HIV and AIDS decreases its footprint in the spectrum of public concern (i.e. we have other things occupying out time now) by contributing to an increase in HIV afflicted persons, they may be hoping to attract new attention from the media, and thereby securing more public dollars for HIV research. Think about it, if the disease is shrinking, then why not spend the money on something else that is more dangerous to the population at large? If they can point to a “suprising rise in new HIV infections” story hitting the 6 o’clock news every night, they might get more attention.

Stunning, Texican Simply stunning. Truly, I am at a loss for words. Oh, for a “smiley” that signifies my feelings, one that represents the Yawn That Splashes.

“Hey, all the cool kids smoke. I’m gonna get me some cigarettes so I can be a cool kid too! Yeah, I know I could get cancer and die but I’m young and only old people get cancer and die, y’know.”

Sound familiar?