In 2008 the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) conducted a study to investigate whether Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) vs a one-day MBSR seminar improved immune (CD4+ T lymphocytes) and virological (HIV viral load) status in HIV-1 infected adults.
Using a stressed and ethnically diverse sample of 48 HIV-positive adults in Los Angeles. Participants in the eight-week group showed no loss of CD4 T cells, indicating that mindfulness meditation training can buffer declines. In contrast, the control group showed significant declines in CD4 T cells from pre-study to post-study. Such declines are a characteristic hallmark of HIV progression.
Study author David Creswell, a research scientist at the Cousins Center for Psychoneuroimmunology at UCLA.Creswell noted that researchers found a “dose-response” relationship between MBSR class attendance and CD4 T cells, meaning, said Creswell, “the more mindfulness meditation classes people attended, the higher the CD4 T cells at the study’s conclusion.”
The researchers were also encouraged because the overall CD4 T cell effects remained even after controlling for a number of factors that could have skewed the study results. Most notably, they found equivalent protective effects for participants whether or not they were on antiretroviral medications for HIV. Even participants taking HIV medications showed the CD4 T cell buffering effect after the mindfulness meditation class, Creswell said.
There is emerging evidence from other studies that shows that behavioral stress-management programs can buffer HIV declines in HIV-positive people, Creswell noted. And while there has been an exponential increase of interest in and practice of mindfulness meditation in the West over the past 10 years, this study, he said, is the first to show an HIV disease protective effect with mindfulness meditation training.
Research showing the Impact of mindfulness on Hepatitis/ HIV /Aids:
Website for a centre providing MBSR for HIV+ men
Outline of research by UCLA
Neuropathy and HIV
Summary of the benfits found from the UCLA research
Abell, N. & Rutledge, S. E. (2010). Awareness, acceptance and action: Developing mindful collaborations in international HIV/AIDS research and service. British Journal of Social Work, 40(2), 656-75.
Creswell, J. D., Myers, H. F., Cole, S. W., et al. (2009). Mindfulness meditation training effects on CD4+T lymphocytes in HIV-1 infected adults: A small randomized controlled trial. Brain Behavior and Immunity, 23(2), 184-188.2008
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Logsdon-Conradsen, S. (2002). Using mindfulness meditation to promote holistic health in individuals with HIV/AIDS. Cognitive and Behavioral Practice, 9, 67-72.
Taylor, D. N. (1995). “Effects of a behavioral stress-management program on anxiety, mood, self-esteem, and T-cell count in HIV positive men.” Psychol Rep 76(2): 451-7.