Sexual orientation can be difficult for some guys to identify, with many feeling pressure to act and/or say a certain thing, but, deep down, wrestle with a conflicting orientation. For those who might be in that position, understand that you should do what you feel, ignoring what other people may think. Be proud of who you are.

That said, it’s important to identify a sexual orientation for a number of reasons — and not just because it will help clear your mind. In fact, according to a new study, per Tech Times, guys who hide their sexual orientation are more at risk to contract HIV, which is a dangerous game of pickle no one should want to try and play.

The study, which was published in a health journal called The Lancelet and produced by a research team at the University of Edinburgh, found that guys who didn’t disclose their sexual orientation were “severely underestimating the risk of catching HIV,” with these groups exclusively acquiring STDs from one another. The research team also said that these groups of men felt “uncomfortable disclosing their sexuality because they were at risk of being ostracized by their community,” due to fear or rejection, among other fears.

Using HIV transmission patterns in the United Kingdom, the research team at the University of Edinburgh dug deep into how the infection spread. Their findings showed that 6 percent of men who hid their sexual orientation and pretended to be heterosexual were diagnosed with HIV after having sex with other men. The researchers also found that these types of men probably had fewer sexual partners, but had no evidence that these men would spread the HIV virus to other partners.

As you can tell, sexual orientation is a problem for many men to identify due to social acceptance or fear of uncontrollable factors. We’ve pointed out before that men who struggle with sexism and the belief of masculinity are linked to mental health problems, and the research about sexual orientation is a small relationship.

Again, for those who might be struggling with sexual orientation or are confused about things — which can lead to depression, anxiety and other mental health issues — remember that you’re not alone. Talking to someone professionally can help find focus and the right path for you to feel the best kind of acceptance.

(H/T Tech Times)