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Shy People More Vulnerable to Infections

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LOS ANGELES, Dec 16, 2003 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- Shy and introverted people are more prone diseases, including viral infections, than outgoing folk, California researchers disclosed Tuesday.

The findings by University of California-Los Angeles scientists, published in the latest issue of Biological Psychiatry, identify the immune mechanism that makes shy people more susceptible to infection.

The researchers studied 54 HIV-infected men who were in early stages of the syndrome and in good health. After identifying empirically which ones were shy and which were not, they focused on each subject's HIV progress and his nervous system activity.

For 12- to 18 months the scientists also monitored each man's HIV viral load and T-cells, which AIDS destroys.

During the study some subjects began antiretroviral drug therapy.

"We found a strong linear relationship between personality and HIV replication rate in the body," Cole said. "Shy people with high stress responses possessed higher viral loads."

The researchers were surprised to find that the antiretroviral drugs barely made a dent in the shy patients' disease. Instead of showing lower viral loads, the immune systems of introverted subjects replicated the virus between 10 to 100 times as fast as in other patients.

Copyright 2003 by United Press International.

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