Media: Using 'Bug Chasers'

A special report in Rolling Stone's Feb. 6 issue got a lot of attention, but not the kind of buzz magazines look for. "Bug Chasers--The Men Who Long to Be HIV+" was shocking, but as soon as the article hit the streets, the only two medical doctors quoted in the piece told NEWSWEEK that quotes attributed to them had been either twisted or fabricated. Dr. Bob Cabaj, cited as the source for a claim that 25 percent of all newly infected gay men are either consciously or unconsciously seeking to get HIV, said he told a Rolling Stone fact checker that was incorrect. The disputed figures haven't stopped some groups from citing the original story. "What that says to us is that homosexuality is not just a normal variant of sexuality," says a Focus on the Family official. The Traditional Values Coalition is using the article to urge the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to curtail its AIDS funding. After circling the wagons--the magazine canceled several scheduled media appearances on the story--Rolling Stone will address the controversy in its March 6 issue, on newsstands this Friday. An unsigned editor's letter reads in part, "Rolling Stone stands by its decision to publish this story about an undeniably real and extraordinary phenomenon." "If you repeat a lie often enough, people will start to believe it," says Cathy Renna of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. "This is reminiscent of the coverage of AIDS in the 1980s, focusing on a flamboyant part of the gay male population that quickly becomes a shorthand for the entire gay community."

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