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Bug Chasers
January 24, 2003 7:21 AM   Subscribe

Andrew Sullivan rips apart a Rolling Stone Story that claims that 1/4 of new HIV infections among gay men are sought out by people both looking to infect others and looking to become infected. "Bug chasing" may have been around for a while, but according to Sullivan and this Newsweek article also debunking the shoddy Rolling Stone piece, it's nowhere near the numbers being exaggerated. This brings up so many issues: the speed with which false information is spread over the Internet; the decreasing responsibility of the media to actually report facts; how trustworthy are our news sources?; will Drudge, who also reported the RS story without any hint of its falsehood, ever be revealed as the sensationalistic closet case he is? (Okay, that last bit was a wee troll, so ignore!).
posted by archimago (20 comments total)

 
That isn't a wee bit troll, it is a whole-lotta troll. His page now has all the same stories you linked to, plus one more.

'Bug chaser' story incenses gays...
MAG UNDER FIRE FOR 'BUG CHASER' STORY...
SULLIVAN: Jann Wenner should be ashamed...
ROLLING STONE: The men who long to be HIV+...

posted by internal at 7:26 AM on January 24, 2003


okay, okay, I take back the Drudge comment (I have a personal distaste for the man), but Drudge really was not what my FPP was about.
posted by archimago at 7:41 AM on January 24, 2003


Then you shouldn't have stuck it in there, should you? When will people learn that it's not a good idea to toss a bunch of irrelevant snarky commentary into their posts? Not only does it annoy people, it practically guarantees the thread is pre-derailed. Sheesh.
posted by languagehat at 8:02 AM on January 24, 2003


oh come on, some of us live for the snark! wait, was that too snarky?? anyway, i guarantee this thread will be derailed, or at least hanging on by one wheel, after the dust-up on this topic (sort of) yesterday...
posted by serafinapekkala at 8:12 AM on January 24, 2003


uh, i didn't mean to derail it *myself,* though, so let me make an actual contribution:

the speed with which false information is spread over the Internet

i think it's interesting that this started with a mainstream publication, actually. Rolling Stone is no rag (despite it's lack of quality content, that is), and it's surprising that they didn't take the obviously short amount of time it took to debunk this guy's reportage. i guess they figured gay-baiting their fratboy readers would sell more copies...feh.
posted by serafinapekkala at 8:16 AM on January 24, 2003


This just seems like Rolling Stone trying to relive its heyday of being relevant.
posted by xmutex at 8:20 AM on January 24, 2003


On the subject of HIV infection, there's a well-written, rather inflammatory article on infection and immigration in this week's Spectator. I was astonished that
Britain has no health tests for immigrants, either as a condition of entry or in the form of compulsory screening after they arrive. In contrast, the United States, Canada and Australia all insist on tests — usually paid for by the aspiring immigrant — to show that they will not be a threat to public health or a burden on the health system. [...] Last year, African immigration overtook gay sex as the main cause of HIV in Britain, and a quarter of all those being treated by the NHS for HIV are now African immigrants. Government figures show that more than 2,000 HIV infections were imported last year, which could cost the NHS £1 billion. The fact that those lives will be saved is wonderful, but the government’s policy of tackling the African Aids holocaust by giving NHS treatment to those who can afford the plane ticket to Britain is totally irrational. Spending these vast sums in Africa itself would save millions of lives, not just thousands.
Whether or not one agrees with this article's conclusions, this news seems critically under-reported.
posted by Bletch at 9:14 AM on January 24, 2003


The CBC did an uncharacteristically sensationalistic story on this a while back. (Click 'watch the item' to see it. Realvideo req'd)
posted by stonerose at 10:40 AM on January 24, 2003


"Last year, African immigration overtook gay sex as the main cause of HIV in Britain"

Um, does the word "cause" mean something different in the UK than it does in the US?
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:57 AM on January 24, 2003


If you parse the statement as "The leading cause of the increase in the number of HIV-positive people in Britian" (which seems like the only plausible meaning), the statement makes perfect sense. Can't say if it's true or not, but it's not ridiculous on the face of it.
posted by jaek at 11:50 AM on January 24, 2003


"Last year, African immigration overtook gay sex as the main cause of HIV in Britain"

Maybe now the rest of the world will start caring (more) about the African AIDS problem. It's very simple. Within reason, the higher percentage of people with HIV, the higher everybody else's odds of getting it are.
posted by callmejay at 12:36 PM on January 24, 2003


Here is the GLAAD alert on the RS piece.
posted by stonerose at 2:15 PM on January 24, 2003


It might be just me, knowing Wenner's a big sister, but isn't Rolling Stone just terribly, well, gay these days? I was flipping through an issue the other day...probably the first issue I'd seen in about 20 years...and nearly every article had the word gay in it, whether it be about the two lads in Y Tu Mama Tambien, or Eminem, or Britney and Justin.

Seen in this light, a story like this must have made terrific sense to its publisher.
posted by WolfDaddy at 2:42 PM on January 24, 2003


And though bug-chasing might be a phenomenon only for the crazed, barebacking is on the rise. Are we so sure those who engage in unprotected sex aren't really looking for the virus whether that's their stated intention or not?
posted by WolfDaddy at 2:45 PM on January 24, 2003


1/4 of new HIV infections among gay men are sought out by people both looking to infect others and looking to become infected.

The angle that interests me is the strange blurring of the line between radical "white power" type propaganda and actual news. When I saw it, that was my first thought. Sometimes you'll see something about "ZOG" or "hate crimes" committed by blacks that should just not be taken seriously.

Then, this morning, while watching C-SPAN I saw a strange old man named Lester asked Ari Fleischer how the President feels about the "bug chaser" phenomenon. Swear to Christ, the look on his face was classic. Now I know how someone really looks when they read a troll. The old guy sounded sincere, too. He read the question like a real old-timey news man.

"Last year, African immigration overtook gay sex as the main cause of HIV in Britain"

Hate to say it, but isn't this a reason to stay away from women who sleep with blacks? Not to mention keeping non-white immigrants out of the country. This is the same kind of story I'm talking about. I'm not saying it must be stopped, or even that it's necessarily wrong, just that when these anomalies appear, I find it pretty interesting. It's one of those moments when real fantasy takes over the typical "our world has gone insane" experience of reading the news. Sure, one could just read tabloids, but it wouldn't be the same.

Recently read an article from a British paper about African immigrants practicing ritual cannibalism and actually selling human flesh on the black market. Really wish I could find a link now. It's almost like we're living in the late 19th century, when cannibal Jews stalked the streets of London and the Chinese were all lawless opium addicts.
posted by son_of_minya at 3:18 PM on January 24, 2003


"isn't this a reason to stay away from women who sleep with blacks?"

What??!!
posted by y6y6y6 at 3:42 PM on January 24, 2003


"Last year, African immigration overtook gay sex as the main cause of HIV in Britain"

Yes, you can parse the sentence to mean something else that makes more sense. (I assume that, if pressed, the author would say that it meant "Last year, the number of African immigrants with HIV in Britain surpassed the number of homosexuals with HIV for the first time.")

But the sentence, as written, conveys an idea--which is that African immigrants and homosexuals are "causing" HIV. That was my point. It's either consciously or subconsciously inflammatory.

Now, if this were the Grauniad, I might suspect a simple typo...
posted by Sidhedevil at 3:46 PM on January 24, 2003


But the sentence, as written, conveys an idea--which is that African immigrants and homosexuals are "causing" HIV. That was my point. It's either consciously or subconsciously inflammatory.

Also my point. The story could be read as "a reason to stay away from women who sleep with blacks." I was not saying I think that.
posted by son_of_minya at 3:58 PM on January 24, 2003


Freeman's PR page says "Freeman's books are scrupulously researched and entirely factual, yet they read more like novels because he weaves the personal stories of his subjects into a compelling narrative." Well, they obviously aren't entirely factual; and it doesn't look like they're scrupulously researched, either. So that only leaves their novel-like narratives. Freeman might be a popular author and radio and tv talk show guest, but he's supposedly been a journalist for 20 years and "he continues to write for a number of publications." I'm curious about the rest of his work.
posted by octobersurprise at 5:14 PM on January 24, 2003


> "Last year, African immigration overtook gay sex as the main
> cause of HIV in Britain"

A very simple and obvious parsing is "...the main cause [of new cases] of HIV in Britain."
posted by jfuller at 11:44 AM on January 25, 2003


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