Recently I have come into contact with a number of people on online who have asked me to “poz” them. How did a virus like HIV become fetishized, and what happens when they become positive?
Bug Chasing is a fetish and a fantasy for a handful of people within the gay community (I’m unaware of the phenomenon among straight people, but it may well exist there too).
The act of bug chasing is essentially the desire to become HIV-Positive through having unprotected sex with people who are known to be positive themselves. It’s a strange, damaging fetishization of a life threatening virus that many people find disturbing and upsetting.
The piece I’m writing is in no way aimed to shame or demonise people who partake in bug chasing as a sexual act, in part because the act its self is often based around control more than flagrant disregard for one’s health. It would be hypocritical of me to judge other people for their fetishes, as anyone who knows me well knows that I have a pretty fruitful range of kinks myself.
I have recently come into contact with a number of people on Grindr and Scruff who have been asking me to “poz” them. My reactions have ranged from disgust, anger, hurt, and confusion and I’ve either hastily blocked the person, or sent a harshly worded reply. But recently I took myself out of my own head and decided to question the motives of a pretty persistent guy who had initially asked me to “squirt [him] full of [my] virus”.
He was adamant to let me know that this was more than just a fantasy for him; it wasn’t just a guy thinking of sleazy, uninhibited sex with a guy who has the pinnacle of taboos coursing through his veins. He begged and pleaded and reasoned with me, explaining that it was all he wanted. He wanted me to “breed” him and convert him to being HIV-Positive.
I tried to rationalise my questions, because, for the record, I tend to sero-sort my sexual partners. I sleep with HIV-Positive guys more often than negative guys, and I generally don’t use condoms when doing so. I always disclose my status and I always enquire about other people’s statuses too. I have and do sleep with HIV-Negative people too, and they’re always aware that I’m HIV-Positive, on medication, undetectable and healthy. My argument is, as long as both parties know the risks (I’m aware of the risks I take too), and both parties respect the other’s boundaries then there shouldn’t be an issue.
So why was it such an issue for me to sleep with a guy who was HIV-Negative but wanted to become HIV-Positive? It scared me. I was confused. I told him that, in all honesty I wouldn’t be of much use since I’ve been on medication for seven years and have been undetectable for about six of those. I was in a long-term relationship with a negative guy who didn’t test positive over the course of nine years with me. I’m a pretty safe sexual partner it would seem.
I also told him that the vocabulary he was using was making me uncomfortable, I’m not a fan of fetishizing HIV and I’m not a huge fan of verbal play during sex as it is. When I asked him what he was going to do when he eventually tests positive? What’s the end goal? Becoming infected and diagnosed, that’s the easy part, but then what? It’s my virus that would be infecting him. Part of me. If he goes on to infect others after, am I partially to blame? He ensured me that he would only infect those who “wanted it”.
I haven’t spoken to him since. He’s not a person I intend on meeting or engaging with any further in conversation; but his honesty was quite admirable. My final thought on his situation was “what happens outside of the sex?”.
It’s all well and good to fantasise about having sex with lots of men, getting bred by them and getting off on the depravity of sexual taboos. But cut to three months later, he’s had his orgy, and now he’s sitting in a clinic waiting room and is called through by a nurse who sits him down next to a doctor. The doctor informs him that there was a positive result for the HIV test he took and they need to take more blood samples from him in order to see how his immune system is coping with the stress of the virus. Where’s the eroticism in that?
Then there’s the other questions… Will he tell his parents? What about when his employer notices a change in his energy levels? Is he a smoker? Is he travelling soon? Has he got a good emotional support network around him?
There’s so much more to HIV than just the status. Bug chasing seems like a fairly quick-fix fetish for me to be able to fully comprehend, and it’s something that I still can’t get my head around. It’s not a fetish that will go away either, so perhaps a rational approach is best when discussing it.
Hamish – (@agaytoremember on twitter)
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