A Melbourne man who fantasised about contracting HIV before actually being infected by the virus has spoken of a gay subculture in which infection is seen as "desirable".
The 20-year-old man, who does not want to be named, told Fairfax newspapers both complacency about the virus and the wish to have unprotected sex with an HIV-positive man he was in love with led him to become infected.
"I wasn't actively seeking it, but maybe there were parts of me, dark corners, that wanted it, that were thinking, 'Let's just do it and get it over and done with and then it won't be an issue'," he said.
The young professional is the first to speak out about "bug chasing", a behaviour in the gay community in which men seek to become infected with HIV.
The phenomenon was highlighted at the recent committal hearing for Melbourne man Michael Neal.
Mr Neal was accused of deliberately spreading the virus.
A HIV-positive man said in court that "bug chasing" was "a big thing out there" and that he had been pursued on the internet by a man wanting the bug.
"I just kept reminding him that it was not glamorous," a witness told the court.
Dawn Wilcock, of Positive Women Victoria, a support group for HIV-positive women, said the reaction showed a need for Melbourne's gay community leaders to stop dismissing claims of the subculture as an urban myth.
"There's a lot of defensive and protective behaviour going on that is not addressing the potential repercussions of this," Ms Wilcock said.
"It's a real problem. We know that 75 per cent of Victorian women infected with HIV are contracting the virus from long-term male partners, so the health campaigns targeting gay men need to target others in the community who would never publicly identify themselves as being gay too."
The HIV-positive man said some men going to group-sex parties with HIV-positive men might want to "join the club" and have unprotected sex more freely.
"I have had an extremely intoxicated person claim that he wanted it once," he said. "I fobbed him off and he never came asking for it again."
Rolling Stone article that sheds major light on how sick minded this group really is
Short video on bug chasing