Much research has aimed at defining what bugchasing is and what bugchasers look like. It is my belief that we cannot, and should not, create definitions and labels without having in-depth understanding of this phenomenon and what 'bugchasing' means for those who use the label.
Thus, one of the key aims of this project is defining bugchasing and presenting a portrayal of bugchasers in the UK.
This project is based on grounded methodology, which means that my theoretical conclusions will grow from the findings of the interviews and online research I conduct. I believe that it is key that we take into account actual bugchasers' experiences, beliefs, and feelings about their desires.
We live in a time of change for HIV. History has been marked by a profound fear and loathing of the HIV virus. Some men, however, claim to desire and love the virus. I believe their relation to the virus can provide valuable insights into our relationships with HIV as a society at large in a time of change.
I will be interviewing 15 self-proclaimed bugchasers, in an attempt to understand how they understand their own practices, construct their desires and feel about their interactions.
I will also be conducting research on Twitter, Tumblr and other online sites in an attempt to gain insight into how bugchasers relate to each other and to larger discourses of health and disease around HIV.
The goals of this project are varied:
Provide a realistic definition of bugchasing and what it means.
Understand how bugchasers come to fetishise HIV and how they relate to healthcare discourses.
Understand how their unique relationship to the virus illustrates larger issues in the relation of our society to HIV.
The project will be structured in three stages. The first stage will look at online 'professional' bugchasing materials, such as press releases, pornographic movies and advertisements for parties. The second, will look at online interactions between users of bugchasing sites online, as well as identifying topics/themes in networks such as Twitter and Tumblr. Finally, I will be conducting interviews.