Released in 2003 The Gift is a film by Louise Hogarth which sets out to explore the bizarre phenomenon of intentionally contracting HIV, this act of seeking infection has been coined bugchasing and in this documentary we follow the stories of two such “bug chasers” who are in search of finding “the gift” of HIV infection.
As the film dives deeper into the issue it becomes clear that this desire some men possess to get infected is a worrying trend, one which at the time of filming had pushed the rate of new infections back into rapid rise. Many gay men who were negative for the virus can here be seen actively attending / hosting parties in search for the gift.
A key character in this film is a man called Doug, he is a bright, articulate young man who decided to move from his hometown in the Midwest to San Francisco in search of a gay community to belong to. Once there Doug became a bug chaser as he desperately wanted to feel a sense of belonging. However, once Doug tested positive he then became faced with the reality of living with such a deadly virus and all the negative side effects that come along with it.
In releasing this film it was Hogarth’s intention to raise awareness from within the gay community in the hopes that people would become smarter, practicing safe sex rather than foolishly seeking a virus which essentially could end up killing them.