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AIDS Educ Prev. 2006 Dec;18(6):490-503.

Bug chasing and gift giving: the potential for HIV transmission among barebackers on the internet.

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Graduate Center of the City, University of New York, Center for HIV/AIDS Educational Studies and Training, New York, New York 10021, USA.


"Bug chasing" and "gift giving" are colloquial terms used by some men who have sex with men (MSM) to describe intentional unprotected anal sex ("barebacking") with the goal of spreading HIV. There is little large-scale descriptive research that has investigated the prevalence of this phenomenon. This study analyzed the Internet profiles of MSM who self-identified as bug chasers or gift givers (n = 1,228) on a single U.S.-based barebacking-centered Web site in the fall of 2004. Most men (79%) were White, and most (70%) lived in the U.S. Six categories of bug chasing and gift giving were identified based on the HIV serostatus of men and the desired serostatus of partners they wanted to meet. Only a small portion of men were genuinely seeking partners of discordant serostatus: 1.1% of HIV-positive men and 21.3% of HIV-negative men. A larger portion were ambivalent about their partners HIV serostatus: 72% of HIV-positive men and 35% of HIV-negative men. Having identified online as a bug chaser or gift giver did not consistently correspond to behavioral intentions, as 24% of HIV-positive men and 36% of HIV-negative men were specifically seeking partners of the same serostatus. These data suggest bug chasing and gift giving do exist; however a sizable portion of both bug chasers and gift givers were not intent on spreading HIV.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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