HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is no stranger to today’s society. It’s a virus that weakens the immune system. Eventually the virus progresses to AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome), which is often fatal to those who are diagnosed with it. It’s this reason that makes it hard to believe that there are a number of men who are purposely trying to become HIV positive. However, there are reason’s why men are trying to become infected with HIV.
Those who seek HIV are called “bug chasers” and like most people they want to be involved in something that separates them from the rest of humanity. A few find something special by becoming infected with HIV. Dr. Gerald Schoenewolf, Ph.D. says, “they want to feel accepted and a part of something”(1). Not everyone has the virus, which makes those who are positive different. They are also not alone. “They see those living with HIV as a cohesive group that welcomes its new members and receives vast support” (Freeman).
Chasing the bug can be exciting for some. Since most people would consider the chase as a bad idea it is stimulating to do “something that everyone else sees as crazy and wrong” (Freeman). When it’s something you are not supposed to do, it is fun. “They are just turned on by the risk” (Caloz 1). However, seeking HIV is also exciting for some because it is a fetish. CBC news reporter Marie Caloz says that one person she interviewed was aroused by the idea and that he now only has sex with those who are HIV positive (3). It is similar to the same attractions of sado-masochistic activities. While those acts usually involve physical pain some are turned on by it. In this case they are turned on by a life-threatening illness.
What seems to be the most common reason men are looking to acquire the virus is that they believe it to be a strategic move. Carlos is a bug chaser and he says, “getting HIV will make safe sex a moot point” (qtd. in Freeman). This means he can be more intimate with others already infected by having unprotected sex. He also mentions that after attaining the virus “nothing worse can happen to you” (qtd. in Freeman). Maria Caloz says that one man she talked with was “getting rid of the anxiety of always having to worry about catching it”. (3). Today there is a lot of stress about sexually transmitted diseases and for some getting it out of the way takes the stress off. These men do not want HIV but they think it will happen no matter what. Another person Caloz spoke to said he “wanted to control the time, place and method of his death- so he won’t die alone” (Caloz 4). Death is inevitable, but when you commit suicide, it’s under your conditions. This way they feel like they are in control of their own destiny.
While HIV may not be a death sentence, it is a life sentence. The men infecting them selves with the virus will have to take those pills everyday and night, go to doctors more often in one year than the average person will in their life and have to worry that every time they catch a cold that it could kill them. They will also have to face the fact that one day they may wake up and realize that is not the life they want anymore but it is to late to change and they did it to themselves. Though we must realize that it is their life and their decision.
Caloz, Marie. “Russian Roulette.” CBC News. Canda. 20 November 2001.
Freeman, Gregory A. “Bug Chasers: The Men Who Long To BE HIV+”. Rolling Stone
Schoenwolf, Gerald. “A Psychoanalyst’s Perspective: AIDS And The Death Wish.”
NARTH. 22 December 2004 http://www.narth.com/docs/deathwish.html