Can Self-Hypnosis Impact Distress and Immunity in HIV+ Persons?

HIV+ persons experience distress from the disease and the economic and medical management issues that impact their quality of life. Distress has been shown to negatively impact the immune system in many studies. The purpose of this study was to test an Ericksonian hypnosis intervention designed to reduce distress and relieve the immune system. Forty HIV persons were randomly assigned to either the hypnosis audiotape intervention group or the assessment-only control group. Psychosocial and immunological measures were taken before and after the intervention. Although there were no significant intervention effects, other intriguing findings suggest future paths for research. Frequency of audiotape listening was significantly related to changes in viral load. There was a highly significant correlation at baseline between both total mood disturbance and anger with subsequent increases in viral load being associated with high anger and mood disturbance at baseline. Researchers and others interested in the use of hypnosis to effect changes in behaviors, moods and the immune system will find this study informative and suggestive of future directions in this area of mind-body research.

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