July 14, 2009

July 14, 2009
Barebacking and Bug Chasers

Thanks for joining me for another day in my life. Today is today and I hope you are having a safe and great week so far.

We had our monthly World AIDS Week committee meeting at St. Luke's Community Church today. You could tell it was a hot and humid day by everyone's mood today. With temperatures back to near 100, it just saps everyone's energy. After taking care of business, it was time to run a few errands before getting Gary from work.

Today I would like to talk about barebacking and bug chasers. (Smooth transition huh! LOL). The term barebacking originated in the gay community as being slang for unprotected anal sex.

I also need to explain another couple of terms. A few of us are what is called sero-converters because we only have sex with other HIV positive individuals. This works for me because I never want to be the cause of someone else becoming infected with HIV.

But what worries me is another trend in the gay community. Bug Chasers. Bug chasers are a small group of individuals who seek out other gay men who are infected with the HIV virus in the hopes of having unprotected sex and contracting the virus. Go figure.

This practice is becoming alarmingly more common. In fact, the CDC reports a new surge in the incidence of HIV in gay males because of bug chasers. There are some very strong beliefs at work among these men. From talking to several individuals while doing outreach work there are several reoccurring statements.

Some of them feel there will be no more isolation. For some men, being infected is a way out of the isolation and loneliness which we heap on each other in the gay community. They truly feel they will be welcomed into the HIV community were prejudice and stigma does not exist. Being HIV positive gets you into the "family".

I spoke with one young man who believed HIV was a small nuisance that can be treated with one pill and every bit worth the exposure to become a member of such a protective community.

Others who become infected feel a sense of relief. They are so stressed out over the constant worry of becoming infected that they are grateful when they do get diagnosed. Still others are looking for a sense of intimacy which to these men equals unprotected sex.

Among some of the population of barebackers, there is a distinct connection with masculinity and unprotected sex. You have to be able to give it or take it to be a real man.

Deliberately seeking out HIV is a practice few of us understand. I am not sure if it is a call for help or just a symptom of social stigma and prejudices.

One thing I do know is this issue is helping drive the epidemic in the gay community. Addressing and acknowledging the problem will give us the tools to battle this situation that I have to admit as a long term survivor I do not understand.

Those are my thoughts. What about yours? Drop Daddy Dab a ling and let me know.

Wishing you health, hope and happiness.

big bear hug,

Daddy Dab