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Am I safe here?: How people with HIV/AIDS perceive hidden prejudices in their communities
Date:3/3/2011

o know will tell others").

Within the next eight weeks, the researchers randomly selected about 12 adults from each of the communities where the participants with HIV/AIDS lived and interviewed them by phone about community life and their feelings and behavior toward people with AIDS. The questions were designed to tease out whether the respondent's motivation to act tolerantly was internal or external. The results were tabulated to characterize each community the same way.

The people with HIV/AIDS experienced few overt acts of discrimination, the study found. Yet many still were reluctant to reveal their disease.

What made the difference? It was the community's source of motivation. People with HIV/AIDS felt the most need for secrecy in communities where people felt more social and less personal pressure to avoid being prejudiced.

The study has implications both for communities and their members with HIV/AIDS. "If we want to change community attitudes, we need to be careful," says Miller, "Because if all we do is make people feel pressured, we might be making it worse instead of better."

As for the people with HIV/AIDS, Miller doesn't second-guess their anxieties. Still, she suggests, risk-taking can yield rewards. "If in fact you are in a community where people would like to accept and support you, if you don't disclose, you never give them the opportunity."


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Contact: Keri Chiodo
kchiodo@psychologicalscience.org
202-293-9300
Association for Psychological Science
Source:Eurekalert

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