October 1st 1999
Among psychiatrists who treat patients with HIV/AIDS, the question of how psychosocial distress effects the progression of HIV disease is likely to arise. Even for healthy individuals, we are only beginning to clarify the complex pathways by which thoughts and emotions impact immune function. Due to the bidirectionality of the communications of the brain and the immune system, this is a complicated scenario. The fact that HIV alters the function of the immune system during the course of its progression creates greater confounds to the understanding of these systems. We will address the rationale that progression from HIV infection to AIDS may be modulated by psychosocial factors, discuss possible reasons for conflicting findings and posit some clinically relevant recommendations drawn from research findings.