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And Navy doctors realize this falsehood. While many civilian AIDS patients go through a process of reconciliation, telling their families the truth about their sexual orientation, Navy personnel cling to what's left of their careers and maintain the party line--they contracted the virus from a prostitute. Sometimes, their cover stories become elaborate tapestries of lies upon lies. They marry women. They date men but tell their colleagues about their girlfriends. They speak with familiarity of heterosexual-oriented bars that they have never seen.

Navy's new message: your country needs you, especially if you are gay | UK news | The Guardian

Pacific Beach ," said Gary, a year-old hospital corpsman who joined the Navy eight years ago. Currently, there are about active-duty sailors who are infected with the virus that causes AIDS. A total of 3, have tested positive since For Gary and other infected sailors, the devastating news about their diagnosis is only worsened by the realization that, to maintain their health benefits, they must never divulge how they contracted the virus.

And their heterosexuality is, some say, a grand charade that has taken on increased importance with their diagnosis. For this story, most sailors who acknowledged being gay asked that they be identified only by their first names since they could otherwise be discharged. A number of heterosexual sailors also asked to remain unnamed, fearing backlash from those who regard the infection as a stigma.

Still others allowed the use of their names as long as their sexual orientation was omitted. While an infected person in the civilian world can hold his job without informing his employer for as long as he is healthy, Navy personnel have no such privacy. In and again in , the Navy conducted service-wide tests during regularly held physical exams looking for those who carry the human immunodeficiency virus HIV that causes AIDS, a deadly disease with no known cure.

Gay Navy Sailor's Homecoming Kiss with Husband After 7-Month Deployment Sets Off Outrage

Personnel are also tested when they attend sexually transmitted disease clinics or prenatal care programs. Those who test positive are informed by their supervising officer or a medical officer.


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Still reeling from what some regard as a death sentence, they are immediately packed up and removed from ships or distant commands. For Lenker and many others, the Navy is their family and the only way of life they have ever known. Lenker, 35, has been in the Navy 18 years. He had worked hard for years to reach a long-treasured goal of becoming a hospital corpsman aboard a ship.

He held that position six months before his supervisor told him that he tested positive for the virus that causes AIDS. If I was a civilian, I would still be working my job now. Many of the predominantly male patients left ships or remote commands so they could be close to the hospital.

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According to Navy regulations, HIV-positive personnel must be assigned to a unit that will not be deployed and is within miles of one of four designated treatment facilities: San Diego, Oakland, Bethesda, Md. For the sailors who are reassigned to the San Diego-area, it's often a wrenching blow. Their careers are derailed. Instantly losing their colleagues, they are thrust into a dizzying new world of injections, medications, examinations, and paralyzing fear.

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They receive new assignments, new duties. They live knowing they may die. And initially, few believe they will live more than one or two years. Not all the patients at the Navy Hospital in Balboa Park are gay. Some, like one year-old chief petty officer at North Island Naval Air Station, are, in fact, heterosexual. But even when they are heterosexual and even if they did contract the disease from a prostitute in Africa--few people believe it. Navy sailor grabbing and kissing a stranger in a white dress. The sailor in the photo was on a date in Times Square and decided to celebrate by kissing the closest nurse, a stranger who was not his date.

When he returned home for the holidays, he and his husband Kenneth, 30, decided to recreate the iconic photo, News 4 Jax reports. So long, News4Jax. But the reunited couple is brushing off the negative comments: The couple has since received an outpouring of support from people around the world, including commenters on WFLA's Facebook page.

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