Meditation retards HIV progression

The Scientists at the California University, Los Angeles (UCLA) reveal that mindfulness meditation helps slow down progression of HIV.

Meditation does this by relieving stress and bolstering the immune system in HIV positive patients. HIV eats away the CD4 T cells and weakens the immune system, and stress speeds up this process. On performing mindfulness meditation, the CD4 T cells can decline in HIV positive patients.

According to their study report, mindfulness meditation is a practice of unveiling the receptive awareness of the present moment and to avoid thinking of the past or worrying about the future.

According to lead author of the study, David Creswell, at the Cousins Center for Psychoneuroimmunology at UCLA, the study indicates that mindfulness meditation stress-management training will have a direct impact on slow progression of HIV disease.

The mindfulness program is a group-based, low-cost treatment option, and when this initial finding is repeated in larger samples, it may be possible that such training can be used as an effective complementary treatment for HIV disease, in parallel with medications.

The researchers conducted an eight-week mindfulness-based stress-reduction (MBSR) meditation program and compared it to a single-day MBSR control seminar, using a stressed and ethnically diverse sample of 48 HIV-positive adults in Los Angeles.

They found that participants in the eight-week group showed no loss of CD4T cells, while the control group showed considerable declines. The research team felt that this was a clear indication that mindfulness meditation training can protect against decline in CD4 T cells, a typical hallmark of HIV progression.

According to Creswell, evidences in other studies too, indicate that behavioral stress management programs can protect HIV declines in HIV positive patients.

This is the first study on effects of mindfulness meditation on HIV disease patients. This team is now studying the underlying pathways through which mindfulness meditation reduces stress.

With the benefits of stress-reduction due to mindfulness meditation training, the findings are a clear indication that through this program there can be health-beneficial effects not only in HIV positive patients but also in people who suffer from daily stress.