Bugchasing, intentional exposure to STDs

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Louise Hay
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Bugchasing, intentional exposure to STDs

While bugchasing is seen by some as a form of self-harm, by others it is considered an assertive practice to take control of something that will happen sooner or later.

Last update: April 24, 2022

The world is beautiful because it is varied, and although it may seem incredible, there are also those who voluntarily try to harm themselves. Bugchasing is a practice followed by those who consciously expose themselves to the danger of certain diseases. 



The followers of bugchasing are constantly increasing, and those who practice it are trying to intentionally contract certain sexually transmitted diseases.

In this article we deepen this practice in detail, the reasons why it is considered a movement and what motivations push people to follow him.

Bugchasing, what is it?

Bugchasing is a movement, or subculture, that developed in the United States in the late 90s. The English name can be translated as "microbe hunting", in this case understood as the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). The hunter, or bugchaser, is the person interested in contracting the virus.

Donors are called giftgivers, which are people who are already ill and help spread the virus. The practice takes place against a mutual agreement between the donor and those who want to be infected.

This is precisely the most controversial aspect of the phenomenon: both sides know in advance that they will transmit or contract HIV, a virus that poses enormous health risks.

As we see, bugchasing is as dangerous as it is voluntary. It is still unclear whether the people who implement it do so under manipulation. It is certain, however, that it represents a wake-up call for numerous health organizations.


What drives people to join this movement?

The reasons can be different and to a large extent linked to the individual context of the individual person. Either way, most followers could be pushed by:


  • Fear: those who want to contract HIV by joining the movement say that sooner or later the contraction of the virus is inevitable; for this he prefers to take control of it and choose when to contract it.
  • See HIV as a medically controllable virus. Several researches show that the practice helps reduce the severity of the perception of what it would be like to live with the virus. This is what Gabriela H. Breitfeller and Amar Kanekar suggest in their research study.
  • Eroticism. Those seeking contagion perceive the risk of being infected as erotic. Furthermore, he believes that safe sex reduces the possibility of having improvised sexual experiences. Those who transmit the virus, on the other hand, find the idea of ​​infecting another erotic.
  • Solitude. Many HIV-negative men feel they are excluded as lovers, just as many positive men feel the weight of loneliness from their virus. These reasons lead both sides to practice bugchasing.
  • Homophobic culture. It could be a response to a homophobic culture that disapproves of homosexuals, especially positive ones, going so far as to marginalize them.

Second theories also exist here this behavior is closely linked to the personality of the subject. Furthermore, in some cases the practice has also been associated with activities such as skatophilia, urophilia, exhibitionism or addiction disorders.


Why is bugchasing a movement?

We speak of movement as it refers to a group of people moved by common interests and ideals. These are not individuals interested in contracting or infecting the virus. We are facing a group that holds back sexual relations for the purpose of contracting HIV by supporting the practice.


Those who practice bugchasing claim their freedom of choice to engage in sexual activities without protection, and are reluctant to consider this behavior the product of sexual perversion. We point out that various researches are underway aimed both at giving an in-depth explanation of this behavior and at launching prevention strategies.

Currently the phenomenon of bugchasing is widespread all over the world and is constantly expanding. People interested in joining the practice often come into contact even through social networks.

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