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Gays Who Dabble With Death

The standard explanation of why AIDS/HIV infection in Australia is back to the levels of 20 years ago is that contracting the virus is not the death sentence it once was and homosexuals are consequently less afraid of risking casual unprotected sex.

A recent court case in Melbourne in which a 48-year-old was charged with deliberately infecting two men and trying to infect 14 others suggests that something more nefarious is at work.

The Age newspaper claims to have infiltrated a strange sub-culture where infection is desirable and there are "bug chasers" and "gift givers".

Bastardry would explain why some would want to keep their infection a secret and even take please in infecting others. But why would anyone want to be HIV-positive?

The paper interviewed a 20-year-old who was glad when he found out he was infected. It would bring a closer bond with his partner and take away any apprehensions he might have about group sex with HIV-positive men.

The Melbourne court heard evidence of "conversion parties" where men were wittingly or unwittingly infected with the virus.

"The majority of people that I have known have all been recklessly infected," AIDS Council chief executive Mike Kennedy said.But the paper quotes abundant evidence of deliberate infection.

Kennedy said what was needed was another, stronger safe-sex campaign to reinforce the message and stop the rise in infections.


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