My name is Alexander Cheves. My nickname is Beastly. I write about sex.
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I have always had a big fetish for HIV Poz guys, so decided to bug chaser and wasn’t getting it, so arranged my own breeding party over 4 days. I regularly use chems and was off my titts when I was being bred and fucking loved it! No regrets then, no regrets now! I’ve been HIV Poz since May 2015.
I have always been open about my HIV, and put it on my socials the day I found out! I didn’t wanna build shame around being poz. I never tell anyone how I got it, just wanted to stop the shame before it started. Today, I have biohazard tattoos all over my body, which means guys in bareback sex clubs know I have it. I’m having amazing bareback sex with fellow poz men. I’m proud I have HIV today.
I’m planning on a long play session with a couple of fuck buds. They’ve asked me to stop my meds before we play. Both are neg. I’ve stopped my meds last week to start raising my viral load. While I’m very supportive of people who bug chase, I feel odd doing it. Should I help them? I’m a vers bottom, but let’s face it I’m a total bottom. It turns me on but not sure.
P.S. Your articles are always great and thanks for being so sex-positive! Also, you are a real sexy fucker man!
We need more shamelessness in HIV discourse, and to that end, I’d say you’re ahead of the curve. In service of shamelessness, here’s a blunt confession: I think bug-chasing is really hot, and countless other people do too. For readers: bug-chasing is a stigmatized, tabooed, controversial fetish practice of an HIV-negative person seeking HIV with the purpose of seroconverting (becoming HIV-positive).
As an HIV-positive man, I’m regularly asked by guys to give them my “toxic” load. They fuck my “toxic” hole and swallow my “toxic” seed, and various bottoms have been “charged” when I’ve cum inside them. But all this for me is nothing more than role-play because I’m noninfectious — there’s nothing “toxic” about my hole or cum. I’ve never gone off my HIV meds for anyone or even told anyone I would do so.
I take my HIV meds diligently and am undetectable and therefore unable to transmit HIV. I’m always honest about this and most bug-chasers still want to play, even knowing there’s no potential for them to catch HIV with me. And this isn’t surprising to me.
As a sex worker, I regularly receive messages from potential clients asking me to fuck them without a condom because they “need to overcome it” or “need the danger.” The risk is the erotic component and their fear is the erotic trigger — they’re still scared of HIV when I tell them I’m noninfectious, and they want to be.
Fear is not rational. Fear doesn’t care if there’s no actual risk. And fear can be fun. Perceived or imagined risk is enough to titillate someone’s fetish fantasy, and fear fuels many fetishes. Most clients who single me out because of my HIV status do not call themselves bug-chasers (and many of them would likely be offended if I called them that), but I consider them similar to bug-chasers because all these men have an erotic response to my HIV. The only difference between them is that bug-chasers actually want to have HIV, or at least they say they do.
But do they always? I think that, in some cases, imagined risk is enough for a man with a bug-chasing fantasy to be satisfied because many self-described bug-chasers have happily played with me. We still role-play like I’m infecting them and that seems to be enough.
Their health is not the driving force behind me staying on my meds — mine is. If they don’t get HIV from me, perhaps they’ll get it from someone else. Who cares? I sure don’t. I stay on meds to keep myself healthy. And you should at least consider that option.
If I was HIV-negative, I can’t say I would not be a bug-chaser. Bug-chasing titillates the stigmaphile in me, as I’m sure it does for you. But I was not bug-chasing when I caught HIV — in fact, I didn’t learn about the fetish until years later — and I’ve never been a gifter.
For readers: “Gifting” is when an HIV-positive person tries to infect an HIV-negative person with their knowledge and consent. In other words, it’s the complimentary role to a bug-chaser — the person a bug-chaser asks to give them HIV. (This should not be confused with “stealthing,” which is nonconsensual.) If you go off your meds to help these guys get HIV, that’s what you’d be doing, or trying to do. That’s fine — that’s what they want — but doing so hurts you more than it hurts them. So really think about it.
I’m not worried about your fuck buddies. If they don’t get HIV from you, they might get it from someone else. I’m not even worried about bug-chasers in general, though I do worry a bit about the added strain their fetish puts on our fragile public health system, and I worry what antigay, poz-phobic lawmakers might do if they learned about bug-chasing. But in this situation, all my concern is for you.
Harm reduction is the philosophy of doing things as safely as possible within the assumed reality that people will do risky things, even when they’re repeatedly told not to — and harm reduction saves lives (far more effectively and humanely than shaming and abstinence-based education). This is why we push for drug moderation programs and clean needle exchanges over cold-turkey abstinence and 12-step cults. It’s why we encourage people who have lots of condomless sex to get frequent STI testing and use PrEP and contraceptives. Although bug-chasing is heavily tabooed and frowned upon — even among people with other hardcore kinks and fetishes — it’s nevertheless a real community (and, in my experience, a growing one) that is increasingly accessible to young guys like you via the dark, hot places of the internet. So considering both individual and community health, what are “best practices” for bug-chasing? Here’s my harm-reduction-focused pitch: Make this hookup a role-play fantasy like the ones I have, and stay on your meds.
Here’s my story: I tested positive in September 2013. Shortly after, I started a relationship with someone who encouraged me to go off my meds. For nearly two years after that, I was on a medication break (and I had a lot of sex during this time). It was a dark time in my life and I don’t like talking about it. I’ve not written any articles about it. The break ended when I went to the Los Angeles LGBT Center because I was very sick.
I had lost so much weight. In fact, I was drinking Boost milkshakes, which are given to elderly people trying to put on weight. I was doing a lot of drugs. A gay man at the Center told me I had to restart my meds — because if I didn’t, I would die. Maybe not right away, he said, but I was not well. I didn’t have AIDS, but my viral load was high and my CD4 count was low.
My medication break had nothing to do with bug-chasing. Rather, it had everything to do with the people I trusted and the HIV conspiracy theories I let myself believe. How easily I believed in them scares me. I restarted meds that day and have not stopped in the five years since — in fact, I’ve almost never missed a dose.
Friend, HIV is not something you can turn off and on as it suits you. You can eroticize it, but it’s a very real virus that really kills. It killed a generation of our forebears, men who should have been our uncles and grandfathers, our guides. It would have killed me if I hadn’t started taking my medication seriously.
I rarely use condoms and I have lots of sex, so I’ve certainly traded other STIs (gonorrhea, chlamydia) — unintentionally and, in some cases, by request — but since I re-started meds and became undetectable, I have not been able to infect anyone with HIV. I glimpsed what life could be like without meds and it wasn’t sexy. It was scary.
Your health is more important than a hookup. Erratic medication adherence is dangerous and a doctor should have explained why. I don’t know what meds you’re taking, but you’re probably on a combination pill — a multi-drug, single-pill regimen. If you become resistant to it, you could become resistant to all the frontline HIV medications used today (all the major combination therapies are composed of similar drugs — some are even slightly different combinations of the same drugs). You could be forced to take an older cocktail with harsher side effects that harm your kidneys, weakens your bone marrow, and gives you chronic IBS. Why risk it?
Also, be practical. Stopping your meds for a week to “increase your viral load” is pointless as your viral load won’t increase enough in such a short time to actually infect them. Also, if you’re a total bottom, stopping your meds is in service of a lost cause. Even if you had a high viral load, it would be hard to infect them as the receptive sex partner. I won’t say total tops are immune to HIV, but they’re close. Because of the mechanics of anal sex, HIV transmission is almost exclusively associated with bottoming. I know gay men who were sluts in New York City in the ’80s and never used condoms — and never bottomed. Today, they are HIV-negative. They were the total tops of their sexual circles, and they survived. Unless you plan on topping these guys, there’s no practical reason for stopping meds.
Like any virus, HIV wants to replicate itself. The medicine halts that replication. Every time you miss a dose, you give the virus a tiny window of opportunity to mutate in a way that resists medication. The drugs do get better every year, but half a century has passed since the outbreak and there’s still no cure. I won’t delve into Big Pharma conspiracy theories claiming a cure already exists somewhere so that we can be indefinitely exploited as chronically ill people. We are absolutely being exploited, but we still need the meds to live. This is a cruel setup and some people are making a fortune from our illness, but that’s how it is. It’s the same situation for cancer patients and people with other chronic illnesses.
The risks associated with erratic medication adherence don’t just affect you. You may not care about having a drug-resistant strain of HIV, but there’s a teenager out there — maybe even a young bug-chaser like yourself — who might cross paths with you at a sex party and later be told by his doctor that none of the preferred, safer medications will work for him. We all have autonomy in our actions and he assumed the risk of that when he went to a bareback sex party, but his life will be harder than it needs to be as a result.
I’m glad you’re proud of your HIV — I’m proud of mine. This virus made me a better person and liberated my sexuality. Like you, I have a biohazard tattoo, and for similar reasons. I love our tribe — I love our activism, our fetishes, our fraternity. I’m proud that we can now view our virus as a community rather than just a death sentence. I owe this perspective to the insurgents and activists who died for our cause before I was born. My daily pill — your daily pill — is a victory they won for us, and we must respect it. (My ability to be having this dialogue, to be speaking about a stigmatized illness with openness and love, is another.)
If you’re adamant about stopping your meds, re-start immediately after the hookup, and don’t do hookups like this very often. In the time between these hookups, take your meds diligently and never miss a dose. Again, consider engaging in gifting role-play — tempt them with your HIV status and omit any mention of your meds in your filthy, piggy sex talk — and take your pills as prescribed.
You can still be nasty — I am. But if you’re lucky enough to have access to medication (many HIV-positive people are not), why not be undetectable? “Undetectable” is not a statement of value, and HIV-positive people who are not on meds still deserve sex, love, and community as much as the rest of us — I even wrote this list of sex tips for people who aren’t on meds. But undetectability is a statement of health. I really don’t care how infectious you are, but I do care about how healthy you are, and if you’re undetectable, it means you’re as far from AIDS as an HIV-positive person can be. It means you’re not immunocompromised and you don’t have to sweat over every cold and flu.
I want you to stick around so you can keep having wild sex. Stay to advance our social dialogues — about HIV, about drugs, about shame. Imbibe the next generation of HIV-positive people with pride and insurgency, as we are the ones who will guide them.