Frequently Asked Questions
I’ve heard that the L.I.F.E. Program® (Learning Immune Function Enhancement) talks a lot about “cofactors.”
What are those? A cofactor is anything that affects your immune system and, ultimately, disease progression. People living with HIV can develop and maintain HIV+ health. They can greatly increase this potential by managing certain life issues, called “cofactors” in the L.I.F.E. Program®.
Each cofactor has the potential to speed up or slow down the progression of HIV symptoms or AIDS in an HIV+ person. Each can help or harm the immune system. Each can increase or decrease the frequency of safe or risky behaviors. Each can enhance or reduce adherence to help routines, including medication schedules.
Cofactors in the L.I.F.E. Program® include:
- Primary health care – Develop open communication and collaborative relationship with medical professionals
- Body care – Develop good breathing, eating, exercise, sleep and water intake habits
- Toxins and germs – Develop honest awareness of your exposure to toxins and germs, including drug use
- Health routines – Overcome obstacles to adhering to your personal medical and body care routines
- Coping skills – Develop strategies for adapting to sudden or distressing life changes
- Grief and depression – Develop ways to express what you feel and to seek support.
- Self-assertiveness – Say “yes” to things you want and “no” to the things you don’t want.
- Sustained survival stress – Manage stress, develop coping skills and learn to relax better.
- Beliefs about disease progression – Develop awareness of your deep beliefs; develop realistic hope
- Trusted support and self-disclosure – Reduce stress through open, honest communications with others
- Safe behavior – Avoid activities that could expose you or your partners to illness
- Life goals – Establish realistic short and long-term goals regarding your life purpose
- Altruism and spirituality – Act on your concern for the well being of others; engage in spirituality
What happens during the program?
Sessions are conducted by trained professionals and assisted by peer counselors, who present practical information from medical research. During group you will participate in creative, experiential exercises to help the learning process. You will participate in large and small group discussions. In addition, you’ll meet one-on-one with trained health counselors to address the cofactors you want to improve in your life.
Will this program conflict with my regular medical care?
Absolutely not. The L.I.F.E. Program® is designed to complement and assist your primary medical care. We believe the best treatment for HIV infection is a combination of (1) quality medical care, including antiretroviral medicine when appropriate and (2) immune-enhancing psychological and behavioral habits. Participants in the L.I.F.E. Program® simply discover new ways that disease progression can be replaced by health progression.
How strong is the medical research that supports the L.I.F.E. Program®?
Our program is based on over three decades of scientific research in medicine and health, especially the field of psycho-neuro-immunology (PNI). PNI is part of a broader medical field called mind/body medicine. Hundreds of studies have demonstrated that psychosocial forces can influence immune function in people living with HIV/AIDS, making a potential difference in symptom onset, rate of disease progression and survival time.
What’s this “mind-body medicine” thing I keep reading about?
Psycho-neuro-immunology (PNI) is a 30-year-old medical specialty that studies the interactions between emotions, the brain and the immune system. PNI is a well-established branch of medical science, with published research studies that number in the thousands. This research demonstrates that psychological issues can have a significant impact on immune system functioning. The mind truly can influence immunity, illness and health.
How can I take part?
Contact the PALS Project today! Talk with a L.I.F.E. Program® facilitator about how the program might benefit you. If you decide you want to participate, a facilitator will help you complete an initial survey. New sessions will start soon. Please join us.
What if my medical provider has a question or concern about my participation in the L.I.F.E. Program®?
We believe that physicians and other health-care providers should be aware of your interest or participation in our program. Please encourage your doctor to visit www.shanti.org/life/index.html to learn more about the design of the L.I.F.E. Program®. Your doctor can review the For Health Professionals area on this website.
To read more on the design and development of the L.I.F.E. Program®, please visit: www.shanti.org/life/index.html
The L.I.F.E. Program
The Pride Center at Equality Park
2040 N. Dixie Hwy
Wilton Manors, FL 33305