I didn’t know what to call this article other than WTF?! Many of you have read over the last year or so about the history of the leather community and the devastating effect that the AIDS crisis had on our community. That makes what I’m writing about today all the more pertinent.

    I was recently contacted by someone who was interested in getting barebacked. For those who might not know what this is, it’s having sex without using a condom. Not that this is what bothered me so much. What really upset me was this person, who is HIV-negative,  was looking for someone who was HIV-positive for the sole purpose of being “converted.” Meaning he was LOOKING for someone to INFECT him with HIV!

    My reaction was, "WHAT THE SAM HELL WAS HE THINKING?" People who are looking to become positive are called “bug chasers.” Unfortunately this was not the first time I’ve been approached about this.

    When I asked WHY he wanted to become positive, part of his answer was so he could become “a true gay.” WTF?! A “true gay”? What the hell does THAT mean? Being positive is NOT what makes you gay.

    And WHY would anyone want to be positive? You wouldn’t want cancer, so why would you want HIV? I just couldn’t wrap my head around this line of thinking.

    Once I calmed down and had time to think and talk with some others, I realized some things. Many of these so-called “bug chasers” are people who are in their early 30’s or younger. They have never known life without AIDS and HIV. The people who they see in medication ads are very healthy and well-built people. And people they know who are positive look fine and healthy. So they think, well, so I become positive, these people are and they are just fine. They haven’t experienced watching people wither and die a horrible death due to this virus.

    Also, in talking with people of this age group, I also found out a lot of them are terribly naïve about HIV. They don’t know how it’s transmitted or if they think they do, it’s incorrect.

    My opinion is that to be a “true gay” you must (not should but must!) know about this disease. They think that if someone ejaculates in them, that is the only way it’s transmitted. Well, I have news for you, just barebacking and not ejaculating IS a way to transmit this disease.

    We talk about not exchanging bodily fluids to lessen the possibility of transmission. So they think semen, saliva, and other such fluids. They don’t think blood. And if they do, they think that you have to have a cut and are bleeding. Well, you need to go back to Sex 101 because when you bareback, you could have tiny tears in the anus and if the other person could have tiny cuts on their penis, their blood can be transferred from one person to another when they have sex.

    The other thing I found out is that they have no idea what it’s like to live daily being HIV+. The daily drugs, the constant doctors and the costs associated with the drugs. Unless you have damn good insurance, you will NOT be able to afford the medication to keep you healthy. Without insurance, HIV medication can run $1,500-$3,000 per month. And even with insurance, it can still cost you $100s per month.

    And then there is the constant possibility of getting a virus or infection that might put you in the hospital or worse yet, kill you. At this time in the history of the world, HIV is NOT a curable disease. At this time in life, HIV does still kill.

    Oh, yeah, you can be on maintenance drugs, but you can’t miss a dosage, and yes it prolongs your life, but not permanently. At some time in the course of the disease, it will kill you. It might be 30 years, it might be two, everyone is different, but just like incurable cancer, it kills.

    So for those of you out there who think, “Oh, I won’t get it.” Think again!! And for those bug chasers out there, you need to talk to someone who is living with this disease and visit people who are dying from AIDS. When you watch those you love die from this, you wouldn’t wish this on your worst enemy.

    So to all my brothers who are younger than 40, please, PLEASE educate yourselves. For more information, please contact Positive Directions, or KU Medical Center, or The Center. All of them have information they will be glad to share with you. And if you want to talk to someone who has lived through the original AIDS crisis of the 80’s, please contact me. I’ll be glad to share what I know.

    And should you want to meet others who have lived through all of this, many of us in the Leather community have. We lost a lot of our brothers and don’t want to lose anymore. Anyone is welcome to visit and join us. We meet the third Saturday of each month at The Center at 6pm.

28-Feb-18 14

Marcia McCoy, Ph.D.

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