The existence of a bug chasing subculture

David A. Moskowitz*, Michael E. Roloff

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


This study attempted to authenticate the existence of a controversial subculture of gay men, the 'bug chasers', whose main attribute is an active desire to voluntarily contract the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), and examine the tenacity with which this subculture actually searches for seroconversion. Using a quasi-randomized survey of personal profiles, bug chasers were compared against barebackers, a culture of gay men that practice intentional unprotected anal intercourse. Bug chasers were authenticated as an observable subculture of barebackers where most reported apathy to the serostatus of their partner or an active want of a serodiscordant partner, and a preference towards practicing unprotected anal intercourse. As anticipated, two subgroups with varying tenacities were found within the sample of bug chasers. Apathetic chasers were found only to be in search of partners with sero-ambiguous status. Ardent chasers were found only to be in search of certifiably serodiscordant partners.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)347-357
Number of pages11
JournalCulture, Health and Sexuality
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2007


  • Barebacking
  • Bug chasing
  • Gay subcultures
  • HIV

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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