I would like to give a massive thank you to everyone who participated in the 2023 Bug Chasing and Gift Giving Survey. This survey received responses from 516 individuals, with the each response tallied and added to a combined total before being distributed to ensure nobody could be identified through their individual responses. If you would like to take a look at the graphical data, along with the comments received, you can do so by following this link. As you browse through the survey results, please remember that this is not a scientific survey, so you must not rely on any of the data or use it for any particular purpose.
This survey is conducted annually to capture changes in responses and also to provide an opportunity for different question and answer sets to be presented to participants. We received feedback from some participants through some of the individual questions and also at the end of the survey, which has been used to make the 2024 better, by providing additional responses to questions and also new questions have been asked to help us understand each other and ourselves better. Hopefully you will consider taking the 2024 survey so you can get involved and become a part of the next survey results, which you can do by following this link.
Many of you have been waiting patiently for the results to be published and this article explores some of the responses received, along with delving deeper into some of the data that has been extracted from individual responses. As soon as the data was graphed, it quickly became apparent that there’s some patterns that exist, which is what makes these surveys so exciting, because you can see where you fit in based on the global data, but remember we are all individuals, so don’t feel uncomfortable if you don’t feel like you fit in with the majority, because we each have different circumstances and we are who we are and shouldn’t change for anyone else.
The top 5 countries in terms of those who identify as either bug chasers or gift givers or who share a curiosity in the subject, includes the United States (282) at number 1, followed by the United Kingdom (57) in 2nd position and Australia (30) in 3rd place. The 4th and 5th place goes to Canada (20) and Germany (20) equally. Mexico made it to 6th place (9), with France (8) and the Netherlands (8) following closely, with Brazil (7) and Poland (6) also making it into the top 10 countries.
Due to the country data being overshadowed by the United States, this survey included details of state based regions for our United States participants, with the most popular state for those interested in bug chasing and/or gift giving being Texas (27), which was a massive surprise for me, followed by California (24), then New York (21) in 3rd place. Florida (18) came in at 4th place, followed by Illinois (14) in 5th place. I was thinking California, Florida and New York would be in the top 3 states, but my thinking was wrong when 27 participants from Texas showed us how much they are interested in HIV.
Most of those who participated in this survey were not taking PrEP at the time of taking the survey (272), with the next highest number of respondents coming in as being HIV-positive (95), followed by those who are taking PrEP (70) in 3rd position. As barebackers know, sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are a common part of our sexual life, with most respondents who reported having an STI having gonorrhoea (170), followed closely by chlamydia (168) and syphilis (126) in 3rd spot. HIV came in next (105), followed by herpes simplex virus (94) in 5th spot.
It seems that many participants undergo regular STI testing, with 85 tested in the past month of taking the survey, followed by 108 getting tested in the past 3 months of taking the survey. Most people have been tested within 12 months, but 55 respondents stated they have never been tested. When it came to the test results, 348 participants stated the results had not changed since their last test, but some did experience different results, with only a handful of respondents revealing changes, which indicates some of the STIs referred to were contracted some time ago or were known without the need for a test.
The largest number of responses about bug chasing came in at 129 who are actively chasing HIV exclusively, which totalled 209 when you add those who are chasing HIV and other STIs. Those who are curious about chasing HIV came in at 94, which increased to 128 when factoring in those who were curious about chasing HIV and other STIs. 73 participants passively chase, with 43 who successfully chased and 28 who do not actively chase and only consider bug chasing to be a fantasy.
Most people started thinking about bug chasing between the ages of 18 and 21 (79), with this also being the highest number of participants who stated the started actively chasing in this age bracket (55). This same age group came in at 3rd position based on the age when the participant became HIV-positive, with the ages between 26 and 30 and 31 to 35 coming in equally at 20 each. On an interesting note, if you consider the responses from those who started thinking about bug chasing when they were under 16 (45) and those who were 16 to 17 years (48), this would have come in at the highest number of responses (93), although the same formula does not correspond to those who actively started chasing between these ages, indicating those who were younger when they started thinking about bug chasing took their time to think about bug chasing more before starting to actively chase.
Desire (315) is the biggest connection participants have to bug chasing, followed by those who find poz men sexually appealing (295) coming in a close 2nd, followed by those who enjoy the risk (284) coming in 3rd. The majority of respondents are chasing HIV-1 (349), followed by HIV-2 (271), which is then followed by gonorrhoea (107), syphilis (94) and chlamydia (89). When you compare the responses from those who reported having an STI, gonorrhoea was the top spot (170), followed by chlamydia (168) and syphilis (126), so these results are closely aligned, however, HIV is still the ultimate STI bug chasers are interested in chasing.
Most of those who are interested in chasing the bug feel exited (319), but 119 respondents are struggling with accepting their desire to chase HIV, followed by 105 who feel comfortable and 98 are ashamed. This confirms that bug chasing can affect us emotionally, and this is why it’s important for us to be able to talk about the way we feel, which is why our online community is so important, as many of us are confused, worried and having a difficult time accepting our interest in bug chasing, although there are a significant amount of us who have been able to process the way we feel and actually feel good about ourselves and our need to become HIV-positive.
When it comes to choosing a time to start taking antiretroviral medication if we do become HIV-positive, most respondents stated that they would only start taking medication when their body told them to (135), followed by 100 stating they would never take medication and 63 stating they would start taking medication before they develop AIDS. 59 participants indicated they would start taking medication if a healthcare professional advised them to, with a smaller number of respondents choosing a particular timeframe, with most being within the first 12 months of becoming infected.
Most bug chasers stated they would be willing to share HIV with other bug chasers (219) if they became infected, followed by 114 stating they would engage in bareback sex and see what happens and 81 not wanting to pass the virus on, although 73 indicated they would stealth, which is a significant number based on how much sex we have, with the majority, if not all of our sexual encounters being bareback. 264 respondents said that nobody should have to pay to become HIV-positive, where the virus should be shared freely and 148 said it depended who was offering it, but those willing to pay were prepared to pay $500 (17), with $200 (9) and $1,000 (9) coming in next, followed by $100, although someone was prepared to pay up to $10,000, with one respondent stating he would pay as much as he could afford.
Those who want to get a poz-centric tattoo revealed that most wanted to get a biohazard tattoo (229), followed by a scorpion (64) the next most popular poz-centric tattoo, but 150 stated they would not get a poz-centric tattoo. A whopping 241 respondents stated they would not want a cure if one became available, as they want to stay HIV-positive for the rest of their life, which supports the importance of those who want to become HIV-positive to stay connected to the virus for the rest of their life. For those who are HIV-positive, most (17) have been HIV-positive for between 11 and 15 years, with 14 being HIV-positive for 3 to 4 years and the same number HIV-positive for 16 to 20 years. If you consider the responses between the past 12 months data range, this came in at 17 new infections.
When it came to those who chased the bug, 17 participants said it took them between 1 to 2 years to become HIV-positive, with the next most popular response being 5 to 6 years with 8 responses, followed by 3 to 4 years with 7 responses. As many bug chasers are finding out, it can be difficult to contract the virus, as many people who are HIV-positive are taking antiretroviral medication, so they are undetectable and unable to pass the virus on, but even those who are detectable will not infect every person they have unprotected sex with, as scientific evidence has found it can statistically take a number of exposures to HIV for a person to become infected.
Interestingly, most of those who became HIV-positive did so unintentionally, with 50 respondents stating they became infected as a result of barebacking, with 43 participants becoming infected intentionally through bug chasing. Most people (57) don’t not know who infected them, but 51 people do know who infected them, so this is a fairly equal result. For those who became HIV-positive and consider themselves to be gift givers, 36 stated they have never started taking antiretroviral medication, with 16 starting in the first two months and 31 starting in the first 12 months. Some participants stopped taking medication to share the gift with others, with most responses coming in for an unknown length of time, with no further time periods given.
There’s a variation between the way those who answered the gift giving questions revealed their HIV status to others, with 43 responses saying it depends, followed by 33 who said they are honest, with only 9 responses coming in at being dishonest. 37 responses were received stating that someone asked them to infect them, which they did and a further 23 responses stating they were asked to infect them, which they followed through with, but it’s unknown if they infected the other person. 28 responses were received from those who had someone talk to them about it, but they never followed through.
Most respondents (31) stated they would never stealth someone, but 24 responses came in saying they would say whatever needed to be said based on the situation, 23 responses involved misleading someone by saying their were HIV-negative, 14 lied about being undetectable and 14 damaged a condom so it broke, with 13 saying they didn’t know their status and 8 removed the condom during sex. As it can be unknown whether someone has successfully infected another person, most respondents (48), said they were not sure if they have gifted anyone, followed by 19 responses for nobody, with 10 responses coming in at infecting between 4 and 5 people (which works out to be between 40 and 50 people, before factoring in them possibly infecting others), and 9 responses for between 6 to 10 people (which works out to be between 45 and 90 people (before factoring further possibilities in).
Those with personal experience being HIV-positive, 53 responses came in stating they would recommend being HIV-positive for sure, with 49 stating they might recommend it depending on the person, with only 9 responses stating they would not recommend becoming HIV-positive. An overwhelming 97 responses came in saying that they have no regrets becoming HIV-positive on purpose, with 4 responses stating they were experiencing other issues, 2 experiencing health issues and 1 experiencing social issues.
As you can see, there’s some interesting data that has been uncovered through this survey and I am very grateful to everyone who took the time to get involved and participate in the survey. This helps us better understand ourselves as individuals, but also as a community, which is why these surveys are so important. The 2024 survey is now open and is structured differently this time around, with questions presenting based on previous responses, meaning only relevant questions will be displayed, which makes this survey more efficient and participants can also provide some information through 5 questions that allow text responses if they choose to.
Featured Photo: Image by drobotdean on Freepik.
Article ID: CC076
Version Control: 1.0 – January 3, 2024: Original article published.