Out Of The Closet With AIDS

A study done by researchers at UCLA shows gay men infected with HIV who hide their sexuality become sick with AIDS faster, and die sooner, than those who are out of the closet.

In the film, “Philadelphia”, Tom Hanks plays an attorney who is suing his law firm for firing him because he has AIDS. He kept his homosexuality from his firm because he feared discrimination. Discrimination is one of many reasons some gays keep their sexuality secret. A study shows gay men infected with HIV, who keep their homosexuality quiet, may die sooner than those who are open about their sexuality.

“There’s a long-standing hypothesis that says that people who have sort of shy introverted, inhibited psychosocial characteristics might be at risk for certain kinds of illnesses especially infectious diseases.”

UCLA tested that theory by studying 80 gay men who were HIV-positive over nine years. It found that the infection progressed almost two years faster for those who were in the closet than those who were not.

“What this study does is it suggests differences in psychological inhibition may relate to differences in physical health.”

Leaders in L.A.’s gay community feel that coming out might do more harm than good for some gays.

“These people have personalities that make it difficult for them to do that and so for them to come out all of a sudden might be too stressful. It might have a negative, a bad physical effect.”

Psychologists suggest closeted gays who feel stressed might want to seek counseling to help them cope with their emotions.

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