Transcendental Meditation

Transcending HIV / AIDS with meditation

hiv aids transcendental meditation initiative dlf tom roth

Tom Roth, Director of the David Lynch Foundation’s Transcending HIV Initative

The David Lynch Foundation’s HIV Initiative has taught the Transcendental Meditation technique to 150 people in the San Francisco area. 

Propelled by the overwhelmingly positive feedback from the HIV / AIDS community, and the results of a pioneering research study, Tom Roth’s team is now ready to take the next step.

Goal for 2017: Offer meditation to
10,000 people living with HIV

Tom Roth is the man who set up the TM-HIV project in 2012. His goal for the next three years is to bring Transcendental Meditation to 10,000 HIV patients across the country.

Brother of DLF’s director Bob Roth, Tom himself has been meditating – and teaching mediation – for over 40 years. He is confident that the time is now ripe for a paradigm shift in how we support the people living with HIV  / AIDS.

Traditionally, the focus of healthcare has been on managing the sickness with various physical interventions, from pills to injections. It’s not that the biochemical approach is not working; it’s that it may need other methods to complement it.

“Just imagine what a shock it is to learn that you’re infected with HIV,” says Tom Roth. “And as stress and fear set in, they immediately have a negative impact on your immune system. So we need to do something about the patients’ wellbeing in order to break this vicious circle.”

Transcendental Meditation, a well-researched stress busting technique suitable to all people, could be exactly this sort of a game-changer.

Study: TM improves patients wellbeing

The first-of-its-kind randomized controlled study, published in the journal AIDS Care (Taylor&Francis), compared a group of meditating HIV patients with those not practicing meditation.

The study found that Transcendental Meditation helped to improve several quality-of-life factors.


Sumedha Chhatre, PhD, is a health services researcher at the Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania.

According to the lead researcher Sumedha Chhatre, the patients in the meditation group showed significant improvement in areas such as the ability to be physically and socially active, pain levels, general mental health, vitality, and general health.

“This is the first study to explore application of TM in community dwelling adults with HIV and adds to the existing evidence regarding association between stress and outcomes,” says Chhatre.

As with any new perspective, further scientific research is needed to carve out the details. Many key markers – for instance, T-cell levels in meditating HIV patients – are presently defined mainly by first-hand accounts.

Yet Tom Roth and his TM-HIV Initiative at the David Lynch Foundation know one thing for sure.

On the ground, it’s already high time to start transcending HIV.

Watch a video about the San Francisco TM-HIV project,
by David Lynch Foundation:

For more information,
please visit the David Lynch Foundation’s HIV Initiative web page or contact the Initiative’s director Mr. Thomas Roth, tom [at]

Read how TIME magazine reported on the project