No evidence of gay “bug chasers,” AIDs group say

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

The National AIDs Trust (NAT) has dismissed suggestions that gay men “fantasise about passing on HIV.”

A BBC3 documentary, “I love being HIV+,” to be shown this evening, warns viewers that “bug chasers” may encourage people to try to get infected with the virus.

Deborah Jack, chief executive of the NAT, said: “There is very little evidence of people trying to get infected with HIV. The real issue is why risk-taking behaviour continues when HIV positive men have no wish to pass HIV on HIV negative men wish to avoid infection.

“The reasons are complex, and can range from low self-esteem to low understanding of risk. But this is where we need to focus attention and resources.”

The programme suggests complacency about living HIV could be a reason why infection rates are on the rise. It is presented by HIV sufferer, Ricky Dyer. He looks at apparent bug chasing, a phenomenon whereby HIV negative or untested men try to get infected with the virus.

Mr Dyer investigates the rumours on a gay dating website, he tells the programme, “I’m not saying I am offering them sex…talk is all I want.”

However, within days he is contacted by “bug chasers” wanting to be infected or “pozzed up.”

He soon finds that most of the talk is fantasy,

Will Nutland, from the Terrence Higgins Trust, told the BBC, “”The concepts of ‘gift giving’ and ‘bug chasers’ are definitely based more in fantasy than reality.

“Most gay men with HIV do not want to pass HIV on, and most gay men who do not have HIV do not want to get infected.”

According to the World AIDS Day report by EuroHIV, the United Kingdom has seen the largest increase in HIV cases in any country in Western Europe in the last four years.

“I Love Being HIV+” is on BBC3 at 2100 tonight.