July 25, 2008

Study: Meditation Slows HIV Progression

Reducing stress can bolster the immune system in human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV-positive adults, U.S. researchers said.

CD4+ T lymphocytes, or CD4 T cells, are the brains of the immune system, coordinating its activity when the body comes under attack. They are also the cells that are attacked by HIV -- the virus slowly eats away at CD4 T cells, weakening the immune system.

But the immune systems of HIV/AIDS patients face another enemy as well -- stress, which can accelerate CD4 T cell declines.

Researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles, report that the practice of mindfulness meditation stopped the decline of CD4 T cells in HIV-positive patients suffering from stress -- slowing the progression of the disease.

Lead study author David Creswell said mindfulness meditation is the practice of bringing an open and receptive awareness of the present moment to experiences, avoiding thinking of the past or worrying about the future. It is thought to reduce stress and improve health outcomes in a variety of patient populations.

The study was published online edition of the journal Brain, Behavior, and Immunity.