The Men Who Want AIDS

For some homeless, HIV infection results in an upgrade to their lives through government benefits programs.

This cruel paradox — having to get really sick in order to enjoy a better, more comfortable life — has not gone unnoticed. “I have experienced people [who are] grateful that they have HIV,” says Sage Rivera, a research associate at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention who has worked with hundreds of LGBT youth. “It’s sort of like a sigh of relief or an extra boost,” he says. “There are a whole bunch of different names for HIV within the [LGBT] community: ‘the monster,’ ‘the kitty,’ ‘the scratch,’ ‘the gift that keeps on giving.’ So people say, ‘I have the kitty — so now I can get my place. Now I can get hooked up; I can get my food stamps, I can get this, I can get that.’

The spread of HIV is incentivized. Yikes.