I’m a loud-mouthed, bad-ass motherf$%ker who doesn’t give one iota what other people think. My friends call me Mouth St. Helens. My doctors call me HIV positive. In my support group over the years I’ve noticed that guys like me
Do Extroverts Fight Off HIV Better Than Introverted People?
I’m a loud-mouthed, bad-ass motherf$%ker who doesn’t give one iota what other people think. My friends call me Mouth St. Helens. My doctors call me HIV positive. In my support group over the years I’ve noticed that guys like me—outgoing, extroverted—seem to do better on the meds than the “Mr. Magoo” shy guys who keep to themselves and don’t say much. Do you think there’s anything to that? Do you think personality affects how well you fight off HIV?
— Mouth St. Helens
We must share the same genes. Last night I dreamt that Dan Savage, Dr. Ruth and I were in an airplane that crashed. God was sitting on the great white throne when we got to heaven. God asks Savage, “What do you believe in?”
Dan replies, “Well, I believe that sexuality is one of your great gifts to us.” God thinks for a second and says, “Okay, very good. Come and sit at my left.”
God then addresses Dr. Ruth. “Ruth, what do you believe in?”
Dr. Ruth replies, “I believe that orgasms are your way of saying that you love us.” God thinks for a second and says “Wonderful. Come and sit at my right.”
God then addresses me. “Woody, what do you believe in?”
I say, “I believe you’re in my chair.”
Anyhow, the science backs you. Shy, sensitive people are more vulnerable to all infectious diseases, not just HIV. Why? Because introverts experience more stress than extroverts and stress is the great facilitator to disease.
The autonomous nervous system, which controls heart rate, blood pressure, sweating, and resting pulse is hyperactive in shy people. This hyperactivity wears the body out and makes the body release a hormone called norepinephrine that seems to increase HIV replication and decrease the effects of drugs.
The latest study in the Journal of Biological Psychiatry assessed participants for “inhibited temperament” (shyness) using scales to rate them for introversion, social avoidance, and emotional inexpression: You know all the things Jack Black is known for. Anyway, the study showed that viral loads were eight times higher in “shy” men who were not on medications. Among men taking combination therapy, suppression of HIV levels was eight times worse in shy men.
Ain’t that a kick in the pants? A loud-mouthed A$$ hole like you has a better chance of surviving HIV than the sweet, sensitive soul sitting next to you.
And they say God doesn’t have a sense of irony.