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Bug chasing is the act of having unprotected sex with the intention of contracting a sexually transmitted infection for sexual pleasure. The term is typically used to refer to actively attempting to contract HIV. Bug chasing is most common among gay males. People who practice bug chasing, known as bug chasers, may develop a fetish for the act. Bug chasing was popularized in the United States in 1999 before spreading around the world.
People interested in bug chasing may simply fantasize about the act or act on their desires, usually by identifying someone who is known to carry the HIV virus and having unprotected sex with them. Some do not disclose their motivations. Some even lie about their HIV status to make HIV-Positive people feel more comfortable. Others are open about their bug chasing activities. Many use the Internet, including online forums and social media, to connect with HIV-Positive men who will have sex with them, known as gift-givers.
While some HIV-Positive people happily have sex with bug chasers, others are reluctant to have sex with them. These men tend to feel hurt or angry about their proposals. Aware of the life-threatening nature of HIV, they feel the virus should never be fetishized. They also worry about the potential for their HIV to spread beyond the bug chaser, and how the bug chaser may cope with HIV should he contract it.
Anecdotal evidence suggests people who enjoy bug chasing do not indulge in the activity because they don’t care about their health. Instead, they enjoy the rush and taboo of engaging in such risky behavior. Some may want to control their own destinies and contract the virus under their own terms. Others may appreciate the extra healthcare they will receive with HIV-Positive status. There is also a common perception that HIV is a relatively minor condition that can be controlled with medication.
Once a bug chaser contracts HIV-Positive, they are likely to have health complications. While some enjoy the sexual attraction they now receive from bug chasers, others feel sex is lacking because it is no longer high-risk for them. Bug chasing is a high-risk sexual activity. Condoms should be used in any sexual encounter with a HIV-Positive person. Anyone with an interest in bug chasing should enter counseling to curb their urges before they put their health at risk.