I have been asked many times about my having engaged in unprotected sex in order to conceive a child. While this may be frowned upon because of my HIV-positive status, having unprotected sex is still a reality for many HIV-positive and HIV-negative people. But I do not intend on trying to infect anyone with the virus, because I am not a "gift giver." A gift giver is an HIV-positive person who seeks out to infect others with HIV.
I have stated before that I am not for or against the use of condoms. What I am against is purposely trying to infect someone with the virus. Some of you may be scratching your heads wondering how is this my stance when my risky behavior could very well end up with the same result. This is true but I believe a lot of it falls on your intentions. When I did infect someone with the virus back in 2009 I carried that guilt for an entire year until I finally reached a place in my mind that made me realize that I hadn't been in that sexual act alone. Everyone has the personal responsibility to take care of themselves and I will not carry that guilt any longer.
Back in May, I had gone to Chicago for an event called International Mr. Leather. I met up with a guy there who had recognized me from my work on YouTube. He began to question me about my videos, told me how much he loved them, then invited me to stop by his hotel room later that evening. When I got into the room there were a bunch of young men in the room having unprotected sex. I found my host and asked him about the party and the status of the people participating. He informed me that this was a gift giver party. There were HIV negative people who were having unprotected sex with the hopes of becoming infected with HIV. These people are called bug chasers. I was in complete shock! Why would anyone want to go around purposely infecting others with HIV?
In my research on this question I learned that some people believe that they have very good reasons for wanting to infect others or become infected. I found many of these people were actually in magnetic relationships. Meaning that one partner was HIV negative while the other was HIV positive. Within these relationships some of the HIV negative partners find it much less stressful to become infected with the virus than to be worried about whether or not they have it. They have also expressed to me that it makes the sex better when both people are HIV positive. I do not condone this but I did understand where they are coming from. I have had sex with HIV negative people where I could not fully enjoy the sex because I was scared that the person would become infected. Yet, when I have sex with an HIV positive person I relax more because that is one thing that I do not have to worry about.
Some of these magnetic relationships have grown so strong that the HIV negative partner may want to share every part of his/her life with their partner. So they seek to become infected so the two have more in common. I found this to be true in relationships where the HIV positive partner has begun to progress into AIDS.
In all the information I gathered I received a lot of information from the bug chasers' point of view. I would still like to know why anyone that is already living with the virus would want to intentionally give this to someone. This is definitely not a gift that comes with a receipt.
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Jermaine Wright is a young, black, bisexual father of five who is also living with HIV. Following a period of service in the Army he is now at the Community AIDS Resource and Education Services of Southwest Michigan (CARES) where he promotes Mr. Friendly, a prevention tool used to raise awareness of the stigma associated with HIV. His mission is to reach out to other young black people living with HIV in a safe manner via his YouTube channel, PozLyfe09. For many youth, this is the only place they can go to discuss and share about living with HIV with someone who is open about his status and sexuality. Topics of his videos include: disclosure, dating, fathering a child post HIV diagnosis, passing on the virus, barebacking while HIV positive and more.
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