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In reviewing the scarce unpublished and published materials on bugchasing, as well as general healthcare speculations, a common theme appears — the lumping of bug chasers with barebackers....
Although these two groups share some of the same practices, namely unprotected anal intercourse (UAI), there are distinctions that differentiate bug chasing..though all bug chasers are indeed barebackers, not all barebackers are bugchasers.
However, the BBC also described bugchasing as more internet fantasy than reality, saying that, "Dyer finds that the overwhelming majority of the talk is pure fantasy." The article also quotes Will Nutland, head of health promotion at Terrence Higgins Trust, as saying, "The concepts of 'gift giving' and 'bug chasers' are definitely based more in fantasy than reality" as well as Deborah Jack, chief executive of the National AIDS Trust, who said, "There is very little evidence of people trying to get infected with HIV." In the Showtime series Queer as Folk a former student of Professor Ben Bruckner asked Ben to infect him with HIV, wanting to experience "the gift".
Some bugchasers engage in the activity for the excitement and intimacy inherent in pursuing such a dangerous activity, but do not implicitly desire to contract HIV.
Some researchers suggest that the behavior may stem from a "resistance to dominant heterosexual norms and mores" due to a defensive response by gay men to repudiate stigmatization and rejection by society.
People who are HIV negative and in a relationship with someone who is HIV-positive may seek infection as a way to remain in the relationship, particularly when the HIV-positive partner may wish to break up to avoid infecting the HIV negative partner.
These individuals have exhausted the sexual high they previously derived by performing other sexual risk taking behaviors, and now turn to bug chasing to achieve the risk-oriented high. His findings challenge "common sense" and research findings regarding bug chasers.
Examining psychological and social motivations for seeking HIV the most frequent response was that individuals could not identify a psychological (internal thought process) or social (interactions with others) factor for seeking HIV.