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DOCUMENTARY HAUS

Chaser Explores A Fringe Community Of Gay Men Who Want To Contract HIV

When I made my first short film, Requited, in 2010, one of the actors, Max Rhyser, and I began sharing stories about men we’d met who are intentionally trying to become infected with HIV. They’re called “bug chasers,” and we mutually expressed our confusion and dismay about the subject. The lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community doesn’t want to talk about it. The activist community is afraid to admit it. The straight world doesn’t know about it. And so Max and I decided to make a movie called Chaser

At that point I was sure the film would be more than just provocative. I told Max we should be prepared to defend it, that our decision not to condemn our main character’s behavior, but instead just tell a story and let the audience make their own judgment, would make people uncomfortable. What I didn’t expect was the pushback that came before we’d even raised the money to make the film, or that it would come from sources seemingly dedicated to eradicating HIV from our community. When we approached one of the country’s oldest and most respected AIDS organizations about partnering with us for our upcoming fundraising event on March 30, a representative accused us of “sensationalizing” the issue, decrying that it was a small “fringe” of the gay community who were engaging in this behavior…

We can’t make progress without asking questions. Who are these “chasers”? Why are they doing this? Some of them are men whose families and cultures have shamed them into anonymous, unsafe sex, who have devalued them to the point where they believe their lives aren’t worth protecting. Some are boys sitting in classrooms, watching videos like the one I watched, believing they have no future. These are our people. This is our community. This is our family. And if a member of your family were acting in a self-destructive way, would you ignore it? Would you deny that it was happening? Would you shun those who tried to help? Or would you confront him, find out why, and try to figure out how to stop it?”

Filmmaker Sal Bardo (above) writes about the reluctance of the LGBT community to address “bug chasers” on Huffington Post. Bardo is throwing a fundraiser for his documentary, Chaser, this Friday night (March 30) with a performance of Cazwell at NYC’s the Players Club.

By:           Evan Mulvihill
On:           Mar 27, 2012
Tagged: , , ,
  • 55 Comments
    • The Real Mike in Asheville
      The Real Mike in Asheville

      Powerful argument, and worthy of healthy discussion.

      I have been positive since approximately 1980 (no tests then, but my numbers in 1986 first antibody test, 1987 first T-cell tests, indicated my infection was several years prior to testing). Living with this disease, watching the effects and death watches of many friends, working/volunteering for AIDS/HIV fundraising, I am very close to this disease.

      And I have met a few of these fringe guys who have determined that sero-converting is desirable. No amount of counter argument was effective in getting the ones I met to change their minds. From discussing the struggle to maintain a healthy body, the struggle with side-effects of drug treatments, the struggle of the stigma, the struggle relating to “manageable” vs. side-effects, the struggle to afford treatment — nothing worked.

      The desire to sero-convert is pretty fucked up. The psychology that somehow those HIV+ are freer to live a life without fear — you are going to die, so fuck the associated problems — is beyond misguided, but that seems to be the attraction.

      Yes there will be bad reactions to this documentary; but the argument made by the director/producer, that we do not throw out family members who are mentally sick and harmful to themselves, is a higher calling for us, as a community, to join in the effort to help.

      ************

      Note to Queerty — very well done, this is an important topic and story. I appreciate your coverage.

      Mar 27, 2012 at 11:41 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • DouggSeven
      DouggSeven

      Why not delve into the whole fringe phenomina in general? Women who want to marry convicted criminals, thrill seekers, drug abusers/alcoholics, and so on. It would quadruple your viewer base and it might even make educational material. This is an issue that affects more than just gay men.

      Mar 27, 2012 at 11:42 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • dsp
      dsp

      @The Real Mike in Asheville: said ”
      The desire to sero-convert is pretty fucked up. The psychology that somehow those HIV+ are freer to live a life without fear — you are going to die, so fuck the associated problems — is beyond misguided, but that seems to be the attraction”

      I never got that either, about 3 years back, a friend of mine who was a chaser, and became HIV, the first thing he said was he feels free! I have many friends and acquaintances who are HIV and many friends who have past. I have had unprotected sex and know how stupid an irresponsible that was, but never did I or would ever want to sero-convert. I think it is a sad situation and the discussion needs to be had. Good for this film!

      Mar 27, 2012 at 11:53 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Evan Mulvihill
      Evan Mulvihill

      @The Real Mike in Asheville: Thank you Mike. We’re going to talk to the filmmakers more at their party on Friday. If you’ve been positive since 1980, then you might be one of the longest-living people on earth to survive the disease. Has anyone ever interviewed you for an AIDS documentary?

      Mar 27, 2012 at 11:53 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • cam
      cam

      I love how they say that the straight community doesn’t know about this….

      Who are they kidding!? The STRAIGHT community is the only place that ever wrote about this supposed issue.

      This issue has been covered by CNN, the NYTIMes, Rolling Stone, the BBC…

      In fact in this BBC article they clearly state that many of the people who at first claimed to be bug chasers changed their stories or appeared to be lying to their producers.

      http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/4895012.stm

      This is actually another example of the straight media doing a “Look how messed up gays are” type of story.

      Mar 27, 2012 at 11:57 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • DouggSeven
      DouggSeven

      @cam: ”
      This is actually another example of the straight media doing a “Look how messed up gays are” type of story.”

      This is why the film should be made about the broader topic of the fringe community as a whole. It’s not just gay men that make self destructive choices like this – not in the slightest

      Mar 27, 2012 at 12:04 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • comus
      comus

      This smells off to me, like the urban legend of tainted Halloween candy from the early ’70s that turned out to be wholly attributable to the parents themselves. How many, exactly, constitute a “fringe”? 5%? 1%? One tenth of one percent? Miniscule? OK, a few random anecdotes?

      But let’s make a movie about it anyway. It will be sensational, and if it has the effect of distorting and misrepresenting gay life in the eyes of the general population, oh well.

      Mar 27, 2012 at 12:05 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • KyleW
      KyleW

      Wow, 5 comments in ad every single person is pseaking sense – that’s a record. Hope I don’t ruin it with this one, but…

      I’ve said it before, and I say it again, there is an unhealthily large segment of the gay community that enjoys feeling like victims, as the endless “I got kicked of a plane for being gay” stories here show. Not saying that many gays have NOT been unfairly traeted, but I think that alot of people are jealous of the attention that the genuine victims receive, and they want their share.

      I thought that Real Mike’s comments about hopelessness were very insightful, but I feel that there is also a segment that are so desperate to feel like martyrs that they are willing to take any risk to achieve it. It’s nothing more than a gayspecific version of munchausen syndrome. With that disease, in the munchausen syndrome by proxy version, parents even go so far as to KILL THEIR OWN KIDS in order to gain sympathy, so I’m not completely surprised that people with infect themselves, just for a few years of attention.

      Mar 27, 2012 at 12:07 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • DouggSeven
      DouggSeven

      The terms ‘barebacking’ or ‘raw’ are commom terms in any telephone dating number or craigslist. Me and my partner have been together faithfully for over 16 years and we still wear condoms – not for aids or other std’s, but as a hygene issue in general.

      Mar 27, 2012 at 12:14 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Chub chaser
      Chub chaser

      I agree that this film should be made but I’m worried that the title “chaser” may be confused with the term used by bigger built bears and chubby guys used to describe guys like me who are only attracted to heavey set men.

      Mar 27, 2012 at 12:29 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • comus
      comus

      You should be more worried that the general population will confuse a rare mental disorder with the gay population in general.

      Mar 27, 2012 at 12:37 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • DouggSeven
      DouggSeven

      @comus: Go on craigslist right now and you’ll see the terms ‘bareback’ or ‘raw’ in at least 1 out of 10 posts. It’s more common than you think.

      Mar 27, 2012 at 12:45 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • The Real Mike in Asheville
      The Real Mike in Asheville

      @Evan Mulvihill: Evan, I have not been interviewed about my HIV+ status, initially, as I assumed I was one of many who would be dead within a short period of time. Indeed, the week (Spring 1987) when the first physical symptom appeared, swollen lymph nodes, my cousin, 10 years older and the first of the generation, died of AIDS, and my dad learned he had stage 4 prostate cancer. Quite the mind fuck.

      Anyway, yes I would be willing for an interview, though I prefer a more private exchange, at least at the beginning. Can you see/link my email address as a Queerty member, or do have a direct email? Thanks.

      Mar 27, 2012 at 12:51 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • comus
      comus

      @DouggSeven: Is it clear that those ads are placed by “chasers” as opposed to HIV+ men who think there is no risk to them from unprotected sex?

      Mar 27, 2012 at 12:55 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • DouggSeven
      DouggSeven

      @comus: That is a good question and one that I cannot answer. But can’t you go to jail if you are positive and knowingly transmit the disease? In their posts they usually say they are ‘negative’ and the + ones usually point out that out looking for similar inflicted individuals. I dunno, I’ve never done a formal study, just an observation I’ve had.

      Mar 27, 2012 at 1:02 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Gus
      Gus

      I agree with some of the thoughts put forth in the original introduction. Bug chasers are people who look at the state of the world and their place in it and see no reason to live a statistically typical life. As a fifty year old gay man, I cannot help but feel that the best of my time on earth has past and that the not too distant future holds limited appeal. I am not a bug chaser, practice safe sex and am routinely tested. However, I have no delusions that 60+ is going to be a walk in the park for me and my partner. As such, I can understand the self-destructive behavior of younger men.

      Mar 27, 2012 at 1:06 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • comus
      comus

      @Gus: Most Americans living with reduced safety nets and the usual indignities of aging have concerns about growing old. Most don’t commit suicide.

      Mar 27, 2012 at 1:11 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • ChristopherM
      ChristopherM

      @comus: I don’t think it is urban legend. I have been hit on online by at least two guys who wanted me to infect them (I declined). I don’t think it is widespread at all, but it does exist.

      Mar 27, 2012 at 1:39 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Pat Duffy
      Pat Duffy

      As another Longtimer, I also can attest that the virus isn’t fun OR “freeing”. What most of these “eejits” forget is that having hiv doesn’t mean you get a get out of all the other stuff you could get card. I’m old enough to remember diseases other than aids and they weren’t all easy to have or get rid of either either. Take care of someone with Tertiary Syphilus just once and you’ve never think of a drippy penis as an Inconvienience again…

      Mar 27, 2012 at 1:48 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • NYtheaterfan
      NYtheaterfan

      There was a play a few years ago in the NY Fringe festival that not only was called “Chaser”, but dealt with the exact same subject. Before that, there was a documentary called “The Gift”. This isn’t exactly new territory…

      Mar 27, 2012 at 2:01 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • DouggSeven
      DouggSeven

      This might also have something to do with how the gay community treats it’s aging individuals. Older ‘queens’ are almost always portrayed as sad, cat owning, single hermits with the only communication being with their ageing mother. Mind you, the straight community has youth obsession issues as well – but at least they age with a purpose – what is appealing about older gay life? I am not saying being gay and old is wrong – but without being able to multiply, does make it seem less appealing.

      Mar 27, 2012 at 2:10 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • comus
      comus

      @ChristopherM: I’ve met anorexics who think they’re fat and others who think helicopters are spying on them, too, but they aren’t in danger of being representative of the general population. A film about this mental disorder amounts to a sideshow act and risks skewing perceptions of gays in the larger society.

      Does this project actually accomplish anything, or is it sensationalism in the age of reality TV?

      Mar 27, 2012 at 2:14 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • comus
      comus

      @DouggSeven: Please. The pyramid scheme of child rearing doesn’t work out for a lot of hetero folks either. Many of them end up alone, too.

      I’m concerned about an attempt to dress up a mental illness in sociological justification.

      Mar 27, 2012 at 2:20 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Just being real
      Just being real

      This is a very good topic and I’m glad that a documentary about this issue in the LGBT community is being made. I know people who are HIV neg and who even survived the HIV pandemic and they’ve told me how they want to get infected. Some have guilt about surviving while all of their friends died, and others think that becoming HIV+ will somehow make it so they don’t have to use condoms at all but this is not true since you can get reinfected with the strain of HIV you have, infect someone else with your strain, get the strain of HIV they have, and get STDs that are not good to have along with HIV. There are even younger LGBT people who I have met who don’t use condoms and think that “HIV can’t or won’t happen to me even though I’m doing it raw! You have to want to get HIV in order to get it.” or they use the excuse and live in denial and say “I’m a raw top I’m fine you can’t get HIV this way.”

      Mar 27, 2012 at 2:22 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Just being real
      Just being real

      I agree with Doug7, barebacking IS the worst kept secret of the LGBT community and it’s way more common than people want to admit. I was on another message board and some vanilla twink who likes to PNP but claims he has safer sex said how barebacking is not common at all and I told him how he’s wrong and that he could go onto ANY m2m sex site and he’d easily be able to find lots of men into barebacking and there are even hook up sites for men who are only into doing it raw.

      Mar 27, 2012 at 2:24 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • It's irrelevant
      It's irrelevant

      Other than anecdotes, there is no science that shows that bug chasers are making any contribution at all to the spread of HIV among gay men. Assuming this behavior exists, and I’m being generous, if bug chasing was the only way that HIV was being transmitted among gay men, the HIV epidemic among us would be over. This behavior is making no contribution to the spread of HIV.

      We have known for two decades that alcohol and drug use is strongly correlated with unsafe sex. If these film makers actually gave a shit about this topic they would have looked at that, but I presume that would not sufficiently inflammatory and provocative.

      Mar 27, 2012 at 2:52 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • comus
      comus

      @Just being real: What do you think this documentary will accomplish?

      Mar 27, 2012 at 2:53 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • comus
      comus

      @It’s irrelevant: Oh my. Do we suspect the director of sensationalism?

      Mar 27, 2012 at 2:57 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • It's irrelevant
      It's irrelevant

      @comus: Ya think. Could it be? Say it isn’t so.

      Mar 27, 2012 at 3:20 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • NYtheaterfan
      NYtheaterfan

      Did anyone even watch the above footage? It’s not a documentary, it’s a short film.

      A documentary about this subject already exists entitled “The Gift”. It was directed by Louise Hogarth and was released in 2003.

      Mar 27, 2012 at 5:16 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Cam
      Cam

      @DouggSeven:

      Oh yes, everything is the fault of the evil gay community. Give me a break, have you ever walked through a nursing home? Don’t talk to me about the “Dignity” that the straight community treats older people with.

      Mar 27, 2012 at 6:43 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • comus
      comus

      @Just being real: What exactly is this “gay community” that contains drug-addled people who PNP? None that I recognize. In the bad old days when gays were defined by booze joints and all gay interaction seemed to be sponsored by cigarette companies and distilleries, there might have been reason to view the most-identifiable segment of gay America as _the gay community_. No more. In a moment that sees the emergence of a strong marriage push and a gay rights movement that has made deep inroads into mainstream religious organizations, we don’t need to look to the barflies and the ditzes as spokespeople. Or examples. Or brethren. We also don’t need one more Gen Y or Millennial man to complain about the horror of growing up gay in ’90s. Try the ’80s.

      Mar 27, 2012 at 7:19 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Allnighter
      Allnighter

      Oy. This is actually something that I’ve been discussing a lot lately with my friends. We think the whole “bug chaser” phenomenon is absolutely fascinating, but I am deeply skeptical about its prevalence in the gay community. Most of the studies that have been conducted seem to be collections of online message boards and dating site profiles.
      Frankly, I doubt the veracity of many of these claims – if we were to believe everything we read in online forums then I’d have to concede that Barack Obama is a Kenyan Muslim, UFOs are real, and Tupac and Elvis are alive and got in on the ground floor of the El Pollo Loco franchise while hiding in Mexico.
      The fact is that these articles and news stories tend to find maybe one (if any) person willing to go on record as a chaser, and usually only anonymously.
      And really folks, exactly how long can one be a bug chaser? I mean, you get infected and then you’re a “gift giver” or whatever. It’s not like HIV is some elusive, mystical substance. If I felt like it, I could probably go and get myself “pozzed up” or whatever tomorrow! Tonight even!
      At this point I just can’t really look at this stuff as anything but twisted fanfic. Which is still fascinating, but not a legitimate health crisis.

      Mar 27, 2012 at 10:18 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • comus
      comus

      @Allnighter: What’s fascinating about at attempt to build an urban legend from unsubstantiated, anonymous online blather and in the process besmirch the image of decent gay men?

      Mar 27, 2012 at 11:26 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Geo
      Geo

      This subject kind of reminds me of Dennis Cooper’s novel “The Sluts” and how Cooper brilliantly satirizes online culture, questioning what’s real and what’s not. How many actual “bug chasers” are there really versus how many people on the internet getting off on a phony “taboo” fantasy? Like allnighter says above, a lot of this stuff just sounds like twisted fanfic. At least one of the major barebacking porn companies is transparently trafficking in this fantasy, as suddenly their ads are showing a lot of tops with biohazard tattoos; but its also pretty clear that the folks in their videos are HIV positive to begin with (and several have noted it in interviews when asked). There’s a lot of extremist “taboo” fantasies out there– the straights seem to be particularly fascinated with incest-type images, but I don’t think a lot of ‘em are actually sleeping with their family members any more than I think a lot of women are actually having sex with giant tentacled squids. The more complicated question with stuff like the “bug chasing” thing is what if a lot of this is fantasy to begin with, but leads more misguided souls into trying it as a reality?

      Mar 28, 2012 at 1:20 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Allnighter
      Allnighter

      @comus: You’ve obviously got no interest in sociology…

      Mar 28, 2012 at 2:51 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Just being real
      Just being real

      @Comus, you’re clearly out of touch with reality and the LGBT community these days if you don’t understand that barebacking and drug and alcohol use, and HIV infection are related and they’re all the worst kept secrets of the LGBT community. I don’t use drugs or bareback at all but I have met a lot of people who have and like I said earlier you can meet them online and in all sorts of places. Yes some of them are “decent” and had jobs, were educated, clean cut, and people who seemed nice.

      Mar 28, 2012 at 3:40 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Christopher Banks
      Christopher Banks

      There’s a difference between deliberately wanting to become infected with HIV, and feeling so depressed and self-destructive that you don’t give a shit what happens to you: a collection of reckless behaviour that can include unprotected sex, drunk driving, overindulgence in drugs. The former is a very specific psychosis, the latter is sadly very common, and not talked about until it’s too late and the person in question has become infected.

      Mar 28, 2012 at 6:55 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • jason
      jason

      Unfortunately, there’s a group of gay-identifying men who wish to commit suicide by adopting extremely unhealthy lifestyles. They don’t have the guts to off themselves straight away but, rather, opt to do it slowly.

      There’s the added factor of these men enjoying the attention that comes from being sick. They relish it. They relish the fact that they are ill and are getting attention for it.

      Mar 28, 2012 at 8:08 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • adam
      adam

      i share the above concerns, that the behaviors of a fringe group could be misconstrued by mainstream movie watchers as representative of gay men as a whole. i hope we can say most of us are smart about the sex we’re having, as well as compassionate toward those who’ve made choices other than ours. even the phrasing “the gay community” implies a unity that just isn’t there, i don’t think: we range from the reckless to the repressed, from vanilla to every kink in the book, and from self-destructive to all-too arrogantly self-confident. i think we’re as varied as straight people, but that we still face the problem of representation: what’s true of some is assumed to be true of the whole.

      one thing i haven’t heard in the above discussion is a phenomenon i’ve run into involving what are called “magnetic couples”: one is negative, one is positive, as if their h.i.v. status are opposed battery charges, drawing them together. the negative partner, who is the caregiver, sometimes wants his partner to “poz” him, as a kind of way of proving his commitment to the relationship. how does one convince a starry-eyed fool who’s convinced that sero-converting is his means of bonding with his partner for life?

      Mar 28, 2012 at 9:11 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • comus
      comus

      @Just being real: Where did I indicate confusion about the link between substance abuse and HIV? I’ve lived in the center of West Hollywood for 20 years and my eyes are open. Substance-fogged judgment isn’t the same thing as making a thoughtful, deliberate decision to convert.

      Mar 28, 2012 at 12:35 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • comus
      comus

      @Christopher Banks: Just so. And my criticism here is that the film maker is conflating those two scenarios. Boozy, self-loathing barebacking is a sad cliché, but deliberate, psychotic conversion is dramatic in the way Glenn Close was dramatic in FATAL ATTRACTION. Except most straight people didn’t recognize a determining narrative about themselves in that film.

      Mar 28, 2012 at 12:40 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • B
      B

      No. 33 · Allnighter wrote, “”This is actually something that I’ve been discussing a lot lately with my friends. We think the whole “bug chaser” phenomenon is absolutely fascinating, but I am deeply skeptical about its prevalence in the gay community.”

      I first read about it in an article in the San Francisco Chronicle years ago.

      http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/1999/01/29/MN29711.DTL&ao=all has the details (the article was written in 1999, and there has been very little said about it since).

      The report referred to a party in an apartment in the Castro (note the use of the singular form of the noun “apartment”) where they were kind of playing Russian roulette – there was one HIV+ person in the group, but whoever someone ended up having sex with was kind of random. One would presume that some found the added risk a turn on.

      It was described as a fringe group. Of course there was no significant impact on the overall rate of HIV infections – very few people engage in this sort of behavior. All it shows is that with a sufficiently large sample size, you will find some very strange people. There was also the use of the Internet to get these people together – without a communications network of that sort, it would have been nearly impossible for people in such a fringe group to find each other.

      Mar 28, 2012 at 1:33 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • B
      B

      QUEERTY seemed to have “eaten” the comment I just submitted. If you want to see one of the first articles on this sort of behavior, try

      http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/1999/01/29/MN29711.DTL&ao=all

      Mar 28, 2012 at 1:35 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • somebody that I used to know
      somebody that I used to know

      i have mixed feelings about this.. these are the arguments that reinforce stigma.. sure, the HIV pandemic should still be taken seriously but we have come a long way since the 80’s.. why try to bring all that fear back? besides, even if chasers do exist it is not the majority having bareback sex.. the majority of people looking for bareback sex are already poz.. there’s even dating websites for it.. plus not everyone who is negative and has bareback sex is a “chaser”.. this is just another unnecessary label.. my boyfriend for years is negative and we’ve had bareback sex for years and he has never converted to poz because I am UNDETECTABLE and it is scientifically proven that when you are undetectable it is very unlikely you will infect someone else (practically impossible!).. this is why I think this whole approach feels kinda dated

      Mar 29, 2012 at 12:48 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • The Real Mike in Asheville
      The Real Mike in Asheville

      @somebody that I used to know:

      WRONG WRONG WRONG — NOT WORTH THE RISK AND STILL VERY DANGEROUS

      Hey Somebody, where is this so-called “scientific” evidence that transmission of the virus is “practically impossible” from someone who is undetectable?

      The definition of “undetectable” viral load is a viral count of less than 50 copies of the virus per cubic centimeter of blood. The average male human body contains between 5 and 6 liters of blood, or 5000 to 6000 cc, meaning up to 250,000 to 300,000 virus copies in your “undetectable” body. It only takes 1 copy of the virus to transmit it.

      There are other possible explanations for your BF to not have been infected by you, primarily about him and not about you. Approximately 1 in 100 Americans of European descent, have inherited a particular enzyme from each of their grandparents from families that survived the plague. Those 1 in 100 have a natural immune ability that prevents the virus from attaching to the blood. (About 1 in 10 Americans of European descent have inherited the enzyme from at least 1 grandparent, and have a better ability of slowing the disease, guys like me, who have been positive now for 3 decades.)

      Or, he has been EXTREMELY lucky, but, sooner or later, luck runs into reality.

      Oh, and by the way, while you may very well remain undetectable at every test, in between those test, your body and the amount of the virus fluctuate, pending on other health factors. For example, when suffering from the common cold or flu, your T-cells go down as they fight that infection, allowing a temporary increase in viral load. When the cold/flu is over, and your T-cells rebound, the viral load will return to undetectable.

      ***************

      Please guys, DO NOT RELY ON BLOG POSTS for your medical awareness and information. Believe Somebody or me or not — this is about your health and your life. Go to the CDC or the Pasteur Institute (France has world leading HIV/AIDS programs too) web-sites and educate yourself. One small slip up and you will have a lifetime of managing a disease you could have easily avoided.

      Mar 29, 2012 at 2:04 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Mark
      Mark

      @KyleW:

      Attention? perhaps, but at age 51, I also believe that the glorification of the community’s response to HIV response, the deification of long-term survivors, has played as much a part in the desire to join the “brotherhood” as any desire to self-identify as a victim. Too, the mainstream media made a very successful association between being positive and being gay (despite the fact that worldwide, heterosexuals are the overwhelming majority of PWAs), such that anyone with a slim sense of belonging to the wider gay community might be excused for believing that to be gay was to be infected, ergo, as gay–they should be infected.

      There are thrill-seekers who will face disaster for any number of reasons, and that behavior has nothing to do with being gay–it’s a identifiable psychological profile. I suggest we all entertain reasons that have as much to do with the world we live as we accept reasonings that are simply internalized homophobia in pretty new wrapping.

      Mar 30, 2012 at 3:29 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • somebody that I used to know
      somebody that I used to know

      @The Real Mike in Asheville:

      The tests that I get can tell if I have fewer than 50 copies per ml. And please, if this was such an infectious disease as to people with one copy were infecting others then the epidemic would be an unimaginable disaster. Where are you getting your “facts” from? People’s immune systems always respond to exposure to HIV and it’s a pretty hard virus to spread if you compare it to many others. Anyway, here is the scientific evidence of what I was talking about: http://www.conrad.org/news-pressreleases-64.html

      Plus, I consider me and my partner living evidence of this. We don’t have to be extremely lucky to keep it this way… we just have to keep my viral load undetectable by taking my medications and getting tested regularly.

      Apr 2, 2012 at 7:41 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • The Real Mike in Asheville
      The Real Mike in Asheville

      @somebody that I used to know: Did you know how to read? English?

      The article you linked clearly and unequivocally states “96% less” of a chance of transmission OR, once in every 25 fucks, there is virus transmission.

      Get that: per the study, those HIV+ in treatment controlling the viral load, the risk of transmission is reduced 96%, not 100%, but 96%. I just cannot imagine risking the health of a loving boyfriend, and my husband and I have been together 26 years, and that entire time, I have been positive, and would not even think an iota of risking his health over the idea we share cum.

      Either you are a moron, or your boyfriend, or both.

      Apr 3, 2012 at 10:56 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • The Real Mike in Asheville
      The Real Mike in Asheville

      @somebody that I used to know: Ummm, and did you bother reading the linked press release from the Conrad press release you linked?

      ALL TEST SUBJECT RECEIVED FREE SAFE SEX GUIDELINES AND CONDOMS:

      Per the study, of 886 couples HIV+/HIV- receiving immediate ART, there were: Transmission of virus: 1, transmission of TB: 3, deaths: 10

      Certainly that is better than the 877 HIV+/HIV- couples where the HIV+ did not begin ART: Transmission of virus: 27, transmission of TB: 17, deaths: 13.

      “Somebody” how many times per week do you and your BF fuck? Lets say, from personal experience, you boys are doing it once daily, or 365/year or over 1000 times over 3 years — yeah, well, as I said in my original post, sooner or later you do run out of luck. Transmit the virus, transmit TB and death.

      Apr 3, 2012 at 11:38 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • The Real Mike in Asheville
      The Real Mike in Asheville

      @somebody that I used to know: Lastly, the transmission of virus in the one case where HIV+ was on ART, THEY WERE PRACTICING SAFE SEX WITH CONDOMS! You and your boyfriend, while you are on ART, you ARE NOT using condoms, and the study you linked, did not include studying transmission among those who deliberately practice risky sex.

      Apr 3, 2012 at 11:40 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • somebody that I used to know
      somebody that I used to know

      @The Real Mike in Asheville:

      Ummmmm.. Do YOU know how to read English? I never said that the people in the studies were having bareback sex (and even if they instructed them to there isn’t a way to prove they were in fact being “safe”). Look back and read and notice that when I talked about bareback sex I was referring to MYSELF. What I said about the study was that it proves scientifically that it’s practically impossible/highly improbable that people with undetectable viral loads will infect another person. Even the one case you are using to contradict me in which the HIV+ person who infected the other “while claiming to have protected sex”(still trying to find where they specify this), it also doesn’t specify if he had an undetectable viral load (which I highly doubt). So take THAT.
      You know, you are the perfect example of the main problem I have with the focus of this documentary short. This unreasonable fear you evidently live with is what keeps feeding the HIV stigma and what keeps preventing people from getting tested and facing the illness. Don’t you realize it is people like this who have the disease and don’t know about it and keep fucking around with a dangerously high viral loads who mainly keep spreading the virus? It is not the HIV+ people who responsibly take their meds. Your FREAK OUT attitude is great part of the problem. People need to learn how to talk about HIV without acting like it’s Polio in the 1800’s.
      Here’s a link of the study so you can read it carefully before you keep making shit up and putting words in my mouth that never were there: http://www.hptn.org/research_studies/hptn052.asp

      Apr 3, 2012 at 11:10 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Mitch
      Mitch

      “It’s not like HIV is some elusive, mystical substance”

      Ditto. Anyone who is poz, and open about their status, knows that in a typical city of millions, the number of men who willingly identify as “chasers” is limited to MAYBE a dozen. Of that number, I’ve not met ONE who was sincere about his “quest”, or legitimately thought he was negative. Bugchasing is a fucking myth, dreamed up by the conservative media and fueled by the sort of serophobes and homophobes who write for this site. Infection is the domain of people who are unlucky, or at worst, unrealistic about their chances of infection, not the suicidal and reckless.

      And for god’s sake, will Mike in Ashville stop babbling about how dangerous undetectable guys are? I know you long for the days when negatives actually had reason to be afraid of those of us who take ownership of our health and got tested, but its just not a reasonable concern in relation to the risk we pose relative to the overall gay population. Please, for the love of god, stop validating the hate and serophobia on sites like this. They don’t need your help in hating us and making us feel like shit.

      May 16, 2012 at 11:39 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • The Real Mike in Asheville
      The Real Mike in Asheville

      @Mitch: Apparently you are into some freaky sex that eludes me — your head up your own ass.

      Deny the risk all you want, but even if the risk is only 1% and you engaged with 100 guys/year, you only have a year to see some dumb HIV- become HIV+.

      Per the study, EVEN WITH condoms and ART (immediate drug therapy), the virus was still transmitted in one case. EVEN WITH condoms and no ART therapy, transmission was 27 times more.

      Sex between HIV+/HIV- is safe PROVIDED YOU PLAY SAFE. My hubby and I have been doing it over 26 years, me HIV+ and him HIV-, and he remains HIV-.

      May 17, 2012 at 10:10 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Mitch
      Mitch

      Mike, the HTPN study is a joke. It doesn’t look at the real issue, and still comes up with JUST ONE transmission. That “one infection” occurred in a study where CD4 was analyzed, not viral load. Viral load is the legitimate issues in determining whether someone is infectious. Further, we don’t really know what the fuck was going on with that ONE TRANSMISSION, but ONE infection amongst all the studies that have been churned out on this subject (including several that predate this one) is usually considered to be the result of improper condom usage or treatment failure or soemthing else. The legitimate issue we should all be asking is how many guys have been infected by other guys who were “negative”? A hell of a lot more than one. Stop legitimizing people’s fear and going on about “one copy of virus”. Jesus, somoene could get hit by lightning the next time they leave their apartment, that doesn’t mean you should encourage jaywalkers to stay in whenever it rains.

      And yes, it is probably prudent for everyone to play safe no matter what. What I take offense to is your continued and inexplicable need to villify other poz people, especially when, by your own estimation, you’re putting your own partner at risk.

      May 22, 2012 at 8:59 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·

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