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Few gay man regret disclosing HIV status to friends, family

COLUMBUS , Ohio -- Gay men who are HIV-positive rarely regret revealing their health status to others, according to a new Ohio State University study.

The study, the first of its kind, could be important for clinicians who work with HIV-positive men who are often uncertain whether to tell friends, family, co-workers or others about being diagnosed with the virus that causes AIDS. It was published in the April issue of the journal AIDS Education and Prevention.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that more than 1 million people in the nation were living with AIDS or HIV by the end of 2003. In Ohio, the Ohio Department of Health reports that about 15,000 residents had HIV or AIDS as of mid-2004. Nearly 16,000 Americans died of AIDS in 2004, with 529,000 AIDS-related deaths since 1981.

"I was very surprised at how little regret we found, because you see the angst in HIV-positive men who deliberate very carefully on whether or not to tell people," said Julianne Serovich. Serovich is the lead author of the study and chair of Human Development and Family Science in Ohio State's College of Human Ecology.

"The results offer hope for people who are working in this field," Serovich said. "We can tell HIV-positive men that others in their position rarely regret the fact that other people know their status."

Serovich has studied HIV disclosure since 1997. In previous studies, she found that HIV-positive men who disclose their condition are more likely to get necessary medical help, to find out about new clinical trials and therapies, and are more likely to get social support. Those who reveal their status to, and get support specifically from, family members are less likely to engage in risky sexual behaviors and are less likely to be depressed.

In the current study, Serovich, along with post-doctoral research fellow Tina Mason and doctoral students Paula Toviessi and Dianne Bautista, extensively interviewed 7
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Contact: Julie Serovich
Serovich.1@osu.edu
614-292-5685
Ohio State University
3-May-2006


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