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Bug chasing

Bug chasing is the practice of intentionally seeking HIV infection through sexual activity. It is also called 'pozzing', 'stealthing', 'breeding' and 'gift giving'. The term seems to have first appeared in a 2003 Rolling Stone magazine article: "Bug Chasers: The Men Who Long to be HIV+", but it would be naive to think bug chasing wasn't happening before this time.

Motivations behind bug chasing can be complicated, but reasons and thinking include

  • an ultimate taboo (one of the most extreme sex acts left)
  • the excitement in pursuing a dangerous activity
  • intimacy and eroticism (sexually stimulating)
  • a fetish
  • a sexual fantasy
  • validation and acceptance
  • a shared identity (sense of belonging) within the HIV-positive community
  • to rebel or transgress against accepted social norms/ behaviours
  • HIV fatigue (easier to have HIV than prevent getting it)
  • low self-esteem or worthlessness
  • trauma

There is likely a tension between the fantasy and actual behaviour and, for many, bug chasing is just a sexual fantasy not acted upon. Bug chasing is believed to be a minority practice and/ or not representative of GBMSM and the wider LGBTQ+ community.

Bug chasing with multiple partners increases the risk of contracting different HIV virus strains. These may be resistant to medication, making HIV more difficult to treat and potentially leading to serious health issues. One should be mindful that those engaging in bug chasing may be struggling with mental health issues, problematic drug use, and/ or addiction.

Given the widespread success of HIV treatment and PrEP and greater awareness of U=U (Undetectable = Untransmittable) bug chasers have fewer opportunities to contract HIV. In porn, it's also worth mentioning that when a guy asks another to give him his 'poz load', you don't know if they are both HIV positive or if one is HIV positive on meds but the other is on PrEP.

Updating this November 2023, one of our volunteers (who states his HIV-positive status on his app profile) says he's asked every few months if he'll poz someone including coming off his meds to do so. He has also been asked in person but this is rare.

Bugchasing | Wikipedia
Reinfection with HIV | i-base
Resistance and changing your treatment | THT

PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis)
Undetectable = Untransmittable
HIV treatment

Bug Chasing Featured in a Commercial Bareback Porn Production | Curious Chaser | 4 Jun 2023
 What is the Definition of Bug Chasing? | Curious Chaser | 21 May 2022
Bug Chasers: Do You Really Wanna Go There? | | 27 Jan 2021
Writing bugchasing ethnoperformance: Creative representations of online interactions | PDF | Jaime Garcı´a-Iglesias | Sage Journals, Vol. 24, Issue 1-2 | 16 Mar 2020
The HIV ‘Bug Chaser’ Who Changed His Mind | My Fabulous Disease | 13 Jan 2020
Do some people really want to get HIV? | The University of Manchester | 18 Oct 2018
Do some people really want to get HIV? I spoke to ‘bug chasers’ around the world to find out| the conversation | 18 Oct 2018
The 'Sex Roulette' Parties Where One Guest Is Secretly HIV-Positive | Vice | 18 May 2016
Generationing, Stealthing, and Gift Giving: The Intentional Transmission of HIV by HIV-Positive Men to their HIV-Negative Sex Partners | National Library of Medicine | 6 Nov 2014
HIV 'bug chasers': Fantasy or fact? | BBC News | 10 Apr 2006
Bug Chasers: The men who long to be HIV+ | PDF | Rolling Stone | 6 Feb 2003
Briton faces storm over HIV 'thrill seeker' claim | The Guardian | 26 Jan 2003

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