Daniel Hill wrote an article titled ‘Bug Chasers’ that was published around October 25, 2000 in Alternatives Magazine. The article itself is not dated, but the Internet Archive estimates the article was published around this date. You might be wondering why articles published so long ago are appearing at this website and the reason is because Curious Chaser intends to explore all facets of bug chasing and a lot of the important articles about bug chasing started in the early 2000s, at a time when bug chasing became apparent. Important lessons can be learned from history and because things change over time, it’s important to explore the subject based on what happened in the past and document the progress through to the current day.
Daniel is HIV-positive, and although he did not contract the virus through bug chasing, his article is very refreshing, because it does not sensationalise bug chasing, which is something many media outlets have often done over the years to draw headlines and sell their publications at the cost of the gay and bug chasing community. Some of these agenda-based articles have caused many people mental anguish due to the controversy they have incited and it has damaged relationships and people’s spirit as a result. Daniel lived through the HIV/AIDS crisis and when I read articles from those who were there at the time, I stop and listen, because I want to learn from them about what it was like, because today we take a lot of things for granted.
Something else I learned from Daniel, is when he said that at the time, GAY had become the acronym for “Got AIDS Yet?”, so there was a stigma attached to having a homosexual sexual identity at this time, by associating HIV with being gay. This can still be the case today, although it’s less common now that people are becoming more educated on the subject of HIV. Many people considered those who were HIV-negative and wanted to become HIV-positive in the 1980s and 1990s as being suicidal, because there was no cure in the early days and it was considered that once you became HIV-positive, you were going to develop AIDS and die.
Year 2000. In Gay nightclubs across the U.S. men wear sleeveless shirts in hopes that someone will notice the tattoo “HIV-” blazoned across their deltoid. What is not so obvious is that the intention of such a tattoo is to attract someone who is HIV+. It is an invitation to infect through a practice known as “barebacking,” having unprotected anal sex. In other words, the tattooed man is intentionally seeking an HIV+ partner to infect him with the virus. All that is left is a trip back to the tattoo artist to have that tattoo adjusted from negative to positive. Simple.Daniel Hill.
Many people were judgemental in the early days when it became known that some men wanted to contract HIV and some were even angry that a person wanted by become infected by a virus that had no cure. The virus still doesn’t have a cure today, but it’s now generally treatable and manageable, to the point where the lifespan of someone who is HIV-positive is similar to the lifespan of someone who is HIV-negative. Daniel didn’t cast judgement in his article, he simply wanted to know more and find out the real reason behind it, so he began researching why using psychology to help him understand the thinking behind these men’s desires and actions.
In private sex clubs across the U.S. men gather for a chance to participate in what is called Russian Roulette. Ten men are invited, nine are HIV-, one is HIV+. The men have agreed to not speak of AIDS, nor HIV. They participate in as many unsafe sexual encounters with each other as possible, thus increasing their chances to receive “the bug.” These are the men known as ‘Bug Chasers.’Daniel Hill.
Daniel came up with some reasons, but he didn’t just consider them at face value, because as someone who is HIV-positive, he was looking at the big picture and wanted to make sure he fully understood the considerations and different layers that existed as part of these reasons. Daniel also considered the older generation who lived through this time and the younger generation who knew little about it. This is exactly why it’s important for articles like Daniel’s to be shared with others in the current day, because what happened at the beginning of the HIV/AIDS epidemic should never be forgotten, and those who lost their lives to the virus must always be remembered.
Although it is convenient to maintain a narrow reactive focus, the fact is that if we truly want to shed light on this subject and to understand, we must use our insight and our knowledge. Bug Chasers are members of the human family and it’s important to embrace them as such.Daniel Hill.
A number of professional opinions are incorporated into Daniel’s article, which helped him understand the topic better and it also made his article more useful to those who want to know more about bug chasing. The fundamentals these days are still similar to the thought processes that applied in the earlier days, although due to advances in healthcare, some of the reasons why men choose to chase the bug maybe different, but the core thought processes involving introducing a virus into your body intentionally is still very relevant to this day.
A personal insight Daniel included in his article about his own seroconversion “brought about tremendous grief coupled with a wonderful euphoric sense of liberation”, made him more aware of the need to love himself and take care of himself physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I have only briefly explored Daniel’s article, so please read the full article, as it’s extremely interesting and has remained online for the past 20 years. My opinion is that Daniel’s article needs to stay online forever, because it provides insight from the perspective of wanting to learn more and not judging those who consider themselves to be bug chasers.
- Bug Chasers by Daniel Hill – https://alternativesmagazine.com/15/hill.html
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Article ID: CC031
Version Control: 1.0 – March 10, 2022: Original article published.