# Reasons why healthy people would intentionally want to get infected?

What would be a situation in modern times where normal, healthy people would want to get infected by a non-curable, but non-lethal, virus?

A virus that would have pretty nasty symptoms.

There is no compensation for getting infected.

The disease would not be easily spread, meaning that a person would have to "go out of their way" to get infected, most likely by injecting themselves, potentially even spending large amounts of cash just to aquire it on the black market.

There is no sign of any possible cure for said virus.

No fantasy elements.

• Because the virus has some benefit? What your virus do? What are the nasty symptoms? Sep 17 '17 at 9:15
• You mean vaccines? Sep 17 '17 at 10:00
• Until I got to the fourth paragraph, you seemed to just be describing en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pox_party. Sep 17 '17 at 14:14
• So they can get time off school :P Sep 17 '17 at 16:59
• I once heard about someone who intentionally got a tape worm because he found it stopped his asthma. Obviously, this isn't medical advice, and horribly unsubstantiated, but it's possible one (rather nasty) sounding problem might lessen some other - even though there would appear to be no immediately identifiable link between the two. Sep 17 '17 at 19:31

### Natural Vaccination.

Read about how Cowpox was used to vaccinate against Smallpox, this is our IRL first instance of vaccination against a disease.

The word “vaccination,” coined by Jenner in 1796, is derived from the Latin root vaccinus, meaning of or from the cow. Once vaccinated, a patient develops antibodies that make them immune to cowpox, but they also develop immunity to the smallpox virus, or Variola virus. The cowpox vaccinations and later incarnations proved so successful that in 1980, the World Health Organization announced that smallpox was the first disease to be eradicated by vaccination efforts worldwide.

Your virus could be nasty enough to kill a newly arisen lethal disease; and for your story building may be the only known way to survive.

So for example, a handful of people already infected with your virus survive an outbreak of another disease, "Killingus Allofus" that is spreading fast and heretofore, 100% lethal. You can catch the "Uglification" virus by shaking hands with an infected person$^1$. In fact, Killingus Allofus takes three weeks to kill you, and if you catch Uglification in the first week you can still survive.

Uglification will spread, intentionally, like wildfire.

1 edit: In keeping with the OP's intent; it would be harder to contract Uglification; say you have to cut yourself and rub infected saliva in the open wound.

• This actually fits in perfectly with the scenereo I'm working with :) Sep 18 '17 at 3:11
• See Zika virus may be useful in treating brain tumours for a promising real-life example. Sep 18 '17 at 11:42
• Just a comment on wording: The virus itself doesn't have to kill off the lethal disease, it just has to render you immune to it. The cowpox virus didn't attack the smallpox virus, but the same antibodies attacked both. Sep 18 '17 at 20:59
• This is a common occurence; children are often exposed to common viruses to boost herd immunity, or infect them early in life because it's worse to get it as an adult. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pox_party Sep 18 '17 at 21:05
• The idea that even if infected with Killingus Allofus you have time to get your immune system ready to fight it is also something that has been done in the real world. That is how rabies shots work. It takes a few weeks for rabies to break out after being bitten and if you get vaccine before that you are ok, otherwise you're not (there is now a Milwaukee/Wisconsin protocol, but the odds are still very bad). Sep 19 '17 at 11:41

Because some self-proclaimed health guru claims that it's good for you to have that disease.

The miracle-virus causes your body to absorb free cosmic energies. Your constantly raising body temperature is proof that it works.

The headache you feel is because your brain is reconfiguring itself to become more effective. When the process is over, you will be far more intelligent. Some of our patients even gained psychic powers.

The vomiting, blood-coughing, explosive diarrhea and the open sores you have all over your body are actually all the poisons your body accumulated over your life which are now leaving your body.

The weakness you feel and the periodical blackouts are also part of the cleansing process. Your body is concentrating all its energy on cleaning you. That's in fact a good sign and shows that it works. Some of us were even able to communicate with alien angel-spirits during these intensive cleaning phases.

All of that is of course bullshit. The infected are simply sick. The guru just claims all those pseudo-scientific benefits exist to get people to pay them ridiculous amounts of money for infecting them with the disease.

Sounds ridiculous? Then you might want to take a look at the community of people drinking bleach.

# An excuse to avoid something worse

The virus could be a valid excuse for anyone not wanting to go to war or being involved in a forced marriage.

• Like shooting yourself in the foot to avoid the draft +1 Sep 18 '17 at 13:33
• There was the accusation that British Bomber pilots would deliberately become infected with VD, and the proposal by "Bomber" Harris, to require anyone with VD to have their tour-count reset. However, It's been pretty well estabished that most VD infections were not deliberate. Sep 18 '17 at 18:30
• World War Z style. Sep 19 '17 at 12:14

Believe it or not, there are people who purposefully seek to be infected with HIV. These people are referred to as "Bugchasers".

Lethality: Well, HIV doesn't kill you directly, and those with HIV have near normal lifespans with proper treatment: http://www.bbc.com/news/health-39872530

cited study:

Survival of HIV-positive patients starting antiretroviral therapy between 1996 and 2013: a collaborative analysis of cohort studies; Trickey, Adam et al.; The Lancet HIV , Volume 4 , Issue 8 , e349 - e356

I'd say that HIV can lead to pretty nasty symptoms and that you get no compensation for contracting it. As for how easily it spreads, well it's not airborne or anything, and Bugchaser do sometimes have to go out of their way to find "giftgivers" to get infected.

As for their motives:

Bugchasers indicate various reasons for this activity. Some bugchasers engage in the activity for the excitement and intimacy inherent in pursuing such a dangerous activity, but do not implicitly desire to contract HIV.[1][2] Some researchers suggest that the behavior may stem from a "resistance to dominant heterosexual norms and mores" due to a defensive response by gay men to repudiate stigmatization and rejection by society.[2]

Some people consider bugchasing "intensely erotic" and the act of being infected through the "fuck of death" as the "ultimate taboo, the most extreme sex act left."[3] People who are HIV negative and in a relationship with someone who is HIV-positive may seek infection as a way to remain in the relationship, particularly when the HIV-positive partner may wish to break up to avoid infecting the HIV negative partner.[citation needed]

Others have suggested that some people who feel lonely desire the nurturing community and social services that support people with HIV/AIDS.[2] It has also been used as a form of suicide.[4][5]

Excerpted from Wikipedia

• I've also not seen convincing evidence that this is actually a significant real phenomenon rather than a narrative with an agenda. If OP only wants something that a very few people do, this could be a model, but OP wants a widespread practice and if the claim is that this is a widespread practice, I don't think you can consider this a good answer. Sep 18 '17 at 0:06
• There was a 2003 Documentary, The Gift, which interviewed two men who identified as bug chasers. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Gift_(2003_film) So there were at least two people who were bugchasers. Sep 18 '17 at 15:05
• My understanding is that the OP wanted insight into possible motivations for such an act. An examination of bug chasers provides some real life examples of people who infect themselves with a virus. I think it provides valuable insight even it might not be something the OP wants to directly copy into their work of fiction. Sep 18 '17 at 16:54
• I... whaaa.... whyyyy??!! You broke my mind with this information :O I also think that OP should be the judge of whether an answer is usefull to him or not. Sep 19 '17 at 9:28
• note regarding this (profoundly bizarre) psychological condition, the term "bugchasers" does not only apply to those who 'chase' AIDS, but indeed other diseases and venereal diseases. (indeed, the concept and word usage existed before AIDS existed.) perhaps you should edit your answer to clarify, @Harabeck. Sep 19 '17 at 18:26

Amadeus's answer is good and covered one of the scenarios I was going to suggest.

Here's the second.

In the early twentieth century, before antibiotics, patients with tertiary syphilis were intentionally infected with malaria to induce a fever; this was called malariotherapy.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_malaria#Malariotherapy

Malaria was manageable and is rarely deadly to healthy-ish adults but syphilis had no other working cure. The fever from malaria killed the syphilis infection. You ended up stuck with malaria for the rest of your life but that was a hell of a lot better than a slow decent into madness that syphilis offered.

This was such a breakthrough that the discoverer of this treatment got the Nobel prize.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Julius_Wagner-Jauregg

• This is a actual credible scenario. Scary situation to be in. Sep 22 '17 at 7:43

# Birth Control

Either the virus itself or the symptoms make it's host infertile.

Not sure if you think that infertility is a 'pretty nasty symptom', but never ever beeing able again to reproduce seems a pretty nasty impact.

### Why would they wanna do that?

1. Same as in our society people use birth controls, even permanent. ("I already got 2 kids, i don't want any more").
2. Maybe to counter a disease where reproduction would kill the parent(s) way earlier than normally.
3. Maybe parents are not allowed to do specific or just common things when having children.
4. Maybe children are just beeing made artificial (like in "Demolition Man" but without human produces sperm/eggs).
5. Maybe clasic contraception is not allowed and results in harsh punishments or death sentence (thinking on a religious scale here).

Just my thoughts.

• Don’t stop at religion for number 5. Just move to China. Sep 18 '17 at 12:28
• @DonielF wait. Isn't the opposite true : contraception in china is pretty much compulsory? Sep 19 '17 at 15:54
• @EricDuminil Exactly? I’m not sure what your question is. I get the feeling China doesn’t sponsor contraceptives for all of its citizens; this is a much cheaper alternative. Sep 19 '17 at 16:05
• Anyone who's had a vasectomy would probably upvote this. Sep 19 '17 at 17:45
• @DonielF: Point 5 mentions that contraception isn't allowed. How does this apply to ChinA? Sep 20 '17 at 7:18

If it is possible to catch the disease and it is not possible to demonstrate infection was voluntary, then there might be some benefit from a health care program, possibly even a lifetime maintenance that someone could weigh against the obvious drawbacks.

Obviously they would expect some advantage, real or imagined, from it.

People already undergo painful and even (moderately) mutilating procedures - scarification, modification or removal of body parts, etc. - to express themselves, to "belong" to a group, to pledge their loyalty and things like that. So it could be a fad like many others. And yes, people already spend unbelievably large sums to undergo such procedures. Some body moddings (no links provided - google at your peril) can cost up to £15,000. "Biohacking" is the new word.

So it seems to me you need look no further than that, even with your premises of "A virus that would have pretty nasty symptoms" and "There is no compensation for getting infected". Both conditions already hold for, say, the most extreme scarifications.

If the long-term symptoms are visible and unmistakable, then you can go with the virus as a mark not unlike tribal or criminal-world extreme tattoos.

Or people could choose to believe that infection gives them some superpower - thaumic healing (whatever that is), connecting to the inner universe and so on.

A workaround to the "no benefit from the infection" - we're threading on a fine line here - could be to assume that there is a non-biological benefit either in being infected (insurance compensation, exemption from taxes, ...) or in being treated (maybe the symptoms can only be relieved with pleasure drugs, and there is no easier way of getting said drugs).

Slightly relaxing the no-compensation premise, infected hosts might really become more sensitive to something and deem this valuable, so much than suffering from the other symptoms is still worth it.

If the virus gives sensitivity to other infected hosts, and nothing else, it would be a sort of secret club handshake. As long as the symptoms, while severe, can be hidden (otherwise goodbye secrecy). Or if strict segregation of infected hosts is enforced, and you really really want to be among the infected - because e.g. your family is there, or you believe that the Rapture will ignore the sane...

In Dark Benediction, the virus (okay - bacterial symbiote, and it's highly infective) has several compensations: it increases IQ and supplies enhanced sensorial perception - UV, IR, and so on. The craving for uninfected people to infect, which is the most horrible symptom apart from the grey superskin replacing the original pink one, will quickly abate when no uninfected remain around. Changing those premises very little, you could have a virus that people would kill for acquiring.

• Scarification is an excellent possibility. It appeals to the wellsprings of normal irrationality. Thomas Disch's novel Camp Concentration has a disease that makes its sufferers highly intelligent. Their infection was part of a deliberate program for military research. Plus one. Sep 17 '17 at 13:04

To Get High

We live in a world where kids lick each other's eyeballs for an erotic kick and breathe aerosol from paper bags for a quick high, you'd have an epidemic on your hands just because the virus gives you a high like quality Heroin.

Heck, if our world is any example, you'd have people lining up to get sick.

• I actually considered this, but I didn't really want my world to end up heading toward a potentially "drugged out" society. So there had to be other options Sep 23 '17 at 20:22
• If people with the virus are sent into isolation (c.f. leper colonies) their close loved ones may want to join them and the only way is to have the virus.

• People with the virus may form an exclusive sub-culture (because of rejection by general society or perhaps even because of the effect of the virus on the brain) and a non-infected person may want to be part of that culture.

• Some particular class/race/nationality may be held responsible for creating and spreading the virus, a member of that class may feel guilty and infect themselves as an act of personal atonement.

• Some historical religious figure may have suffered from the disease and a devout follower may wish to be infected to feel closer to their holy leader.

• Having the virus may excuse a person from military service or some other such social obligation.

There is a comic called "Beauty". Now Beauty is a disease, it makes people have headaches all the time and also raise their body temperature. The catch is, people who have that disease become beautiful in one night, and they stay that way as long as they are infected. Their skin refreshes itself, their physical appereance become much more appealing and such. It is super easy to detect someone who has the disease if you know them prior to infection. As it is non-lethal, and at the time of events non-curable, people volunteraly get infected with it.

Just read the first chapter and it will give you many ideas on your virus.

For the same reason people undergo chemo therapy: Because it exchange changes which are considered unbearable with changes you can cope with.

You can also use it to exchange other problems. Let's say we have a disease which very slowly degenerates your physical coordination, agility and strength and makes you handicapped. There is a virus which will stop the disease, but in contrast slowly diminishes your mental capacity: intelligence and creativity.

Athletes, watchmakers, surgeons will likely to vote for contracting the virus because their self-definition and their goal of a fulfilled life is closely associated with their body working properly.

Engineers, scientists and programmers will likely to vote against contracting the virus for the exact same reason: Their self-definition is not bound to be physical fully functional, but to their fully functioning brain.

So it is not really that the virus does not suck, it simply allows to switch something which is considered a horror scenario for something which still sucks big time, but you can cope with.

• Malaria was used exactly this way as treatment for syphilis in the pre penicillin days. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24185088. Sep 17 '17 at 20:49

To give the immune system something to do and prevent it from attacking the body's own cells.

Being exposed to all sorts of germs is the natural environment in which our ancestors lived and for which we are optimised. This is why hygiene and eradication of diseases aren't 100% positive things. Children who grow up in too hygienic environments are much more likely to develop allergies. There is evidence that in African communities allergies jump from practically unknown to quite significant levels when you eradicate certain parasites. (See also Wikipedia on Helminthic therapy.)

The virus switches your brown fat (brown adipose tissue) metabolism back to the 'factory settings' you had as a baby and keeps it that way.

White fat is a food store. You eat too much and your body stores the excess as white fat. When you burn white fat, it provides you with nutrition and, as a side effect, produces some heat.

Brown fat is a heat store. When your body burns it, the biochemical pathways are deliberately inefficient and tons of heat is produced. Human babies and young of animals which are born hairless and helpless (rats, rabbits, etc) use brown fat to keep warm with non-shivering thermogenesis

Why would anyone want to do this? Well, there is a side effect of non-shivering thermogenesis: in laboratory animals which possess it, they can stuff themselves stupid on junk food all day and all night and not become obese. The extra calories are instead burned off as heat by the brown fat. It's been suggested that some of the adult humans who can also eat anything they want yet stay skinny as a rake, have over-active brown fat. (The pharmaceutical industry has been chasing a way of triggering this to happen with a pill since the 80s).

So... your virus gives the infected a couple of weeks of extreme symptoms, then dials them back and settles in for the long haul. The infected person, however, never has to worry about becoming obese again. If they eat nothing but pork pies, ice-cream, chips and fizzy drinks they'll put on a BIT of weight (like the lab rats did) but not LOTS of weight.

Whether people think this is worth the risk, depends on what you decide the nasty symptoms are. Few folk would want to become blind or impotent to lose weight. More might be prepared to have a terrible headache, vomiting and high fever once a month to lose weight.

• If you found that pill lots of people would take it even with near lethal side effects. Sep 22 '17 at 7:46

To avoid being drafted? Think late '60s/'70s in the USA. Some people tried a lot to avoid being drafted. If a country in your world is at war, and is drafting people to fight a nasty war, people may want to get infected. They will assume suffering the consequences of the virus is preferable over being send to a war and get killed/be forced to kill.

Prior to roughly the year 1995, which I still consider "modern times", this is exactly what was done with Chickenpox.

Chickenpox is a highly contagious disease that is a relatively minor experience for a healthy child (on the level of having a bad cold). Its so minor, that treatment is generally advised only for the symptopms (particularly keeping the fever down to safe levels and avoiding scarring due to picking at the scabs). However, it can be deadly for adults, and catching it is a much worse experience for them.

In adults, the disease is more severe, though the incidence is much less common. Infection in adults is associated with greater morbidity and mortality due to pneumonia (either direct viral pneumonia or secondary bacterial pneumonia),bronchitis (either viral bronchitis or secondary bacterial bronchitis), hepatitis, and encephalitis. In particular, up to 10% of pregnant women with chickenpox develop pneumonia, the severity of which increases with onset later in gestation.

Once you've had the disease, your immune system has antibodies for it, so you almost certainly won't get it again. So prior to the vaccine, it was not uncommon for parents to send their kids to play with an infected child (aka: a chickenpox party) in the hopes of getting it over with. People who hadn't had this exposure during childhood were doomed to a lifetime of mortal fear of infected children.

So that's the situation where this would make sense:

1. Disease is much worse if you catch it when you are older and/or less healthy.
2. One exposure is good for a lifetime of immunization.

While your virus might have some nasty symptoms, it could also have some personal benefits (such as @atayenel and @LSerni have said above), but also things like:

- immunity to other illnesses (kind of like a vaccination, but perhaps also more general; this injection makes you get nasty headaches, but stops you from getting nauseous)

- a longer life/better quality life: Aldous Huxley's *Brave New World* has a similarish thing - people die at age 50ish, but are at peak health and beauty until then

- desirable physical or psychological traits

- it might mean they don't need to sleep - desperate entrepreneurs/exam candidates/etc. could get ahead if they could dedicate more time to working

- it could be a potential cure for depression/anxiety/some other mental health condition. It may not be 100% effective, but people (who look entirely 'healthy' from the outside) are willing to try it.

Another thought, more on the social side of things (and also somewhat dystopian): if people can prove they've been infected with this, it means that their family/town/business won't have to submit someone randomly to being infected. If a parent could protect their child from possibly being given this virus, I bet there are a lot of people out there who'd be willing to undergo pain and financial difficulty in order to look after the ones they love.

I'm baffled that this example hasn't come up yet, even as concept.

I mean there is even a southpark episode dealing with.

What if the treatment for the symptoms is what you actually desire?

Referring to the real-world example of getting diagnosed one of several disease and/or disorders to legally consume Marijuana as treatment.

• it did. see worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/a/92364/1996 Sep 18 '17 at 16:42
• @Baldrickk: I read that one already yesterday and did crossread it now 2 times. Can't find a mention of that. Sep 19 '17 at 5:20
• What, the whole topic of bugchasers? Sep 19 '17 at 10:14
• @Baldrickk: please try to put a bit more expression in your comments, your first comment wasn't allready very descriptive. I was baffled that no one came up with getting infected to get legal treatment and use the benefits of that. you commented it did. And I couldnt find that in the link. So what you say now about bugchasers? Haven't said anything about that at all. Sep 19 '17 at 12:28

To gain a rare but critical advantage in an unusual situation

The second example I thought of was a spy like James Bond; e has a ridiculous skillset that is unattainable for the average person, but vital for a spy who needs to be deployed anywhere in the world on a moment's notice. Bond for example speaks a large number of languages, can pilot basically any craft, and implicitly understands high-tech gadgets on sight (sometimes even exhibiting greater mastery than the inventors). It would make sense for him to be inoculated against any known disease, just in case he gets deployed to the backwater of whatever 3rd-world country this disease comes from.

However, it's not stated whether there is any upside of being infected (e.g. future immunity to this or other disease). The "nasty symptoms" called out would disqualify this for Bond, since he needs to be the picture of health, but would be only an inconvenience for a desperate underdog, someone with nothing to lose, or anyone seeking sworn vengeance. Perhaps they have to infiltrate the (equivalent of ) the distant leper colony to speak with a banished king, last holder of the villain's secret weakness?

The Man in Black must have spent some really uncomfortable times getting used to being poisoned, but it certainly paid off in the end.

Even nasty diseases may have, let's say, desirable side effects. Oliver Sacks had a story about an old lady with "Cupid's Disease" (a.k.a. Syphilis). She certainly liked being infected.

• I'm thinking about getting infected after reading that. (I'm not saying I will, just giving it thought)
– Joe
Sep 21 '17 at 2:04

Healthy people have some responsibility in the society: they should get education, get work, pay taxes, maybe marry.

But if you are sick, you sickness is excuse for doing nothing.

You can get welfare from Government, you can live with your parents, get money from charity.

Everybody has pity for you and you should do nothing, just enjoy your life, for example playing in computer games.

Here's a big one: the Government has created a perverse incentive to do so.

Ralph gets Incuria and can't work because the disease is debilitating. His life winds up in a shambles as he can't work or afford medicine. His story is picked up in the media and sympathy flows forth, so they pass the Ralph Law. The Ralph Law doesn't pay people with Incuria directly, but it does pay for treatment so Ralph no longer has to suffer as much and can work again. Everyone rejoices.

Along comes Hal. Hal runs a clinic that treats Incuria. It turns out Incuria is a very expensive disease to treat. But Hal discovers that the Government has overvalued the treatments. As such, Hal can treat people with Incuria to their satisfaction for half of what the Government will pay. Hal realizes he can milk this for a lot more, however. He goes to impoverished places and pays people a kickback to become infected. Hal then treats them and turns a tidy profit.

## Malicious intent

If you have an infectious disease, you can transmit it. And (depending on availability, ease of deliberate transmission, and traceability of such actions) there will be people who will go out of the way to be able to do so.

• OP says that it's very hard to transmit. Sep 18 '17 at 17:06
• +1, Perhaps greed and not malice. If it is a pyramid scheme and you can sell your infection to the next sucker, but when the pyramid is full there are no more suckers and everyone is sick, very sad. Sep 22 '17 at 7:48

In a Dystopian world where rape is common-place and laws against it either don't exist or are not enforced, someone might do this as a deterrent to potential rapists.

(Although you said it is not easily spread, it might still be spread through sexual contact)

Or you said it has "nasty symptoms" - one of the symptoms may be numbness/loss of feeling in a particular part of your body - could be considered "nasty" by a healthy person, but to someone with chronic pain, this would be a pain killer.

• Or the infection reliably blocks The Pill that every dystopian must take and allows The Resistance's thoughts to remain untampered.
– Vi.
Sep 26 '17 at 15:24

Fashion, if being infected became trendy then many would go out of their way for a taste of what everyone was raving about. Having been infected it would be too late to back out once they discovered that the benefits were short lived and vastly overrated. How would being sick get trendy in the first place? Marketing, think Big Pharma, like the song says "this disease comes with a cute chick and a puppy, sign me up", if you have enough people pushing the imagined benefits of a disease that demonstrably doesn't kill anyone then people will queue up around the block to get infected and the company that makes the medications for symptomatic treatment makes a killing.

• This is what I would've suggested. If I remember correctly, in Use of Weapons by Iain Banks almost the entire crew of an interstellar ship has a cold because it's the latest fad. Sep 22 '17 at 13:51
• @Andreas Interesting, I keep trying to read the Culture books but I never get passed about page 12.
– Ash
Sep 24 '17 at 9:56
• Yes, I borrowed the first book from a friend for six years before I got through it. Sep 30 '17 at 0:36
• @Andreas Oh good I'm not doing too badly then.
– Ash
Oct 1 '17 at 9:10

Example: Chicken Pox

Non-lethal life-long virus intentionally caught.

Young people intentionally catch chicken pox in order to avoid getting it at a later age. It is awful to have at all, but the fatality rate greatly increases at older ages. It stays with you for life, and has a small chance to recur.

They developed a vaccine for this in the mid 90s, so I don't think people still intentionally catch it.

Further to Amadeus's comments, civil war soldiers in the USA used to try to self-vaccinate, with unintended consequences:

http://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/how-civil-war-soldiers-gave-themselves-syphilis-while-trying-to-avoid-smallpox

• I downvote it, as putting aside how nasty the link is to read, OP asks for intentionally wanting to get infected. While the Vaccination here is of course just a infection, thats not what OP asked for, as any treatment would then count. And the part of infecting with syphilis is clearly described as unintentional. Sep 19 '17 at 5:37

As a counter to the vaccine answers, what if a side effect of the virus made lives a bit easier? This also explains why not every single person would be trying to get their hands on the disease.

Consider a society where baldness is a form of beauty. It isn't necessary, but much like people who don't brush their teeth, not maintaining your apprentice is sloppy, lazy, or gross. So, everyone wants to be bald.

Most people would shave their head in the morning before their shower, but maybe there's a virus out there that prevents hair growth. Maybe this virus also has negative health effects, and baldness is only a side effect. So, not everyone would want it, but plenty would look to get infected to save themselves a bit of time.

This could also explain the black market element. Maybe the government is aware of this problem and has banned the sale of infected fluids or something, to prevent the disease from spreading and mutating into something worse.

One of the nasty symptoms is infertility.

While undesirable to many people, in a world without decent contraception (or maybe contraception has been banned by the oppressive Dogholic church), this might seem to some as their only means of preventing pregnancy.

Due to Aliens

To get kidnapped by aliens who are doing research on sick humans. Or rather to avoid being kidnapped by aliens doing research on healthy humans.

Prisoners for life / without parole who want to occasionally see the free world / plan an escape through the hospital.

A voluntary human test subject to get monetary benefits from research sources trying to find a cure for it. The thought of finding an eventually successful cure is an added attraction for the subject.