National AIDS Awareness Month

Even though the overall number of people with HIV and AIDS has fallen, it is still a disease which predominately affects gay males. An estimated 67% of new HIV cases are transmitted via male-to-male sexual contact, with heterosexual contact accounting for 24%, and 6% due to drug use. Young people are also more likely to be infected. Young people ages 13-24 account for 21% of new AIDS cases. The most at risk individuals are young gay and bisexual men which “accounted for 81% of all new HIV diagnoses in people aged 13 to 24 in 2016, and young African American gay and bisexual men are even more severely affected,” according to the CDC.

Since 1987, the first year Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)/Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) was listed on death certificates, over 500,000 people have died in the United States from HIV/AIDS. That’s more than the number of people who have died in the Syrian War. Currently, in the United States, AIDS is the 9th leading cause of death in people 25-44 years old.

The AIDS epidemic reached its peak in 1992, with an estimated 78,000 cases diagnosed annually. Since then, AIDS diagnosis began to steadily decline until stabilizing in the late 1990s at approximately 40,000 cases diagnosed annually. The latest statistics from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show between 2010 and 2015 the estimated number of annual infections declined 8% from 41,800 to 38,500.

Victims of intimate partner violence (IPV) are also at a greater risk for contracting HIV. People who report a history of being a victim of IPV are more likely to engage in risky behaviors – intravenous drug use, prostitution, unprotected anal sex – increasing their risk of contracting HIV. HIV-positive women also report higher rates of IPV than the general population.

The opioid epidemic is responsible for the first uptick of HIV diagnosis attributed to intravenous drug use in two decades. In 2015, opioid use led to 181 individuals being diagnosed with HIV in Scott County, Indiana. Lowell, Massachusetts has also seen a recent spike in HIV cases attributed to opioid use.

One of the biggest obstacles faced by HIV/AIDS patients is a healthcare system which is less than perfect. A recent Times article stated, “no class of medicines is more scandalously expensive than for H.I.V.” In the U.S., HIV medication can cost $39,000 a year, while countries in Africa the same medication costs $75 a year.

The U.S. healthcare system may not be perfect, but HIV treatments are getting better. Experts think it’s possible HIV transmission can be stopped in the United States within 3-7 years. The most current and powerful antiretroviral drugs on the market can lower the amount HIV in a person’s system to a level so low it cannot be transmitted.

7 Scientifically-Baked Ways to Get Rid of Worries

When it comes to being a healthy person, most of us think about having a good physical health only. While it’s important to prevent illnesses, mental health also plays a significant role in your overall well-being that affects your mood and motivation. Believe it or not, anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S these days, and the number of stress-inducers is growing rapidly: difficult work schedule, tough deadlines, a misunderstanding with friends and family, troubles at home, an imbalance between work and life, etc.

Balanced Healthy Nutrition

Proper nutrition guarantees a good number of vitamins that keep your body physically and mentally well. It also protects brain cells by increasing blood flow to your brain, and you start thinking better. When you’re about to burn out, your body may deny eating, but it’s important to keep a balanced diet to get all significant elements, minerals, and vitamins.

A list of products that help to remove stress and anxiety:

  • avocados
  • chamomile or green tea
  • walnuts
  • dark chocolate
  • blueberries

A healthy diet is not just about keeping fit; it’s also about enriching your organism with important vitamins to keep its proper work on fighting against various diseases, including mental ones.

Have Enough Sleep Daily

Sleep allows you to recharge the brain and let the body rest. It helps to reduce stress and keep your body energetic. If you’re about to burn out, your body has a set of signs to fight against this state. In fact, worries and anxiety cause sleep problems, but having enough sleep daily is a way out to prevent stress. It seems to be a closed circle. As most adults need 7-9 hours of sleep per day, you need to ensure that your body gets a proper amount of rest daily.

Create a Perfect Environment at Work

You spend around 10.3 years of your life working, and that’s what matters. Your workplace has an impact on your well-being, and it’s important to create a perfect environment, an atmosphere that will stimulate and motivate you. To organize a good workplace, you need to think about everything, including the smallest details: the color of the walls, a comfortable office chair, well-organized table with shelves for keeping stuff, an inspirational corner, and much more.

Key takeaways:

  • blue and green are the most effective colors to diffuse anxiety
  • cactus and aloe are the most common plants for your office desk
  • keeping everything at its place enhances productivity
  • proper lighting at work reduces eyestrain and improves overall well-being
  • having motivational things at the workplace boosts inspirational

While most people try to create a comfortable house, just a few of us think about having a comfortable workplace at the office. To reduce the risks of burning out, create a perfect environment that is aimed at improving your physical and mental health.

Develop Self-Knowledge and Awareness

It goes without saying that all people are different, and every of us has habits that affect our normal life. If you know that it’s in your nature to think much about worries, you can work on it in order to get rid of a bad mood. The more you know your character and typical behavior, the better. To develop self-knowledge and awareness, you need to work hard by discovering more about yourself. If you know a lot about yourself, it’s easier to detect what worries are just a figment of your imagination.

Establish Deep and Reliable Relationships

Humans are social creatures, no matter what type of person you are. It’s in our nature to communicate with other people, and this process is important for your well-being. If you’re an introvert or extrovert, you need to have good relations with family, friends, and colleagues to feel safety as it’s a proof of being a member of a group. Once anxiety comes, communication with reliable people helps to identify the roots of this disorder and find solutions for fighting against it. Having deep and reliable relationships is a must for humans.

Own a Pet

Since ancient times, humans have had relationships with animals. Keeping a pet at home is a common practice nowadays, but it also lowers stress even if you don’t think about. One study finds that keeping dogs as pets help children reduce stress. At the same time, taking care of someone requires consideration, responsibility, and time. In other words, you stay focused on carrying about pets instead of thinking much about potential worries.

Take an Action

If you’re interested in finding out ways to get rid of worries, it’s a good sign that you’ve accepted this problem. Once you know that anxiety hits you, take an action. Although understanding the problem is good, the best way to solve it is to work on finding solutions. Many scientists claim that fears and problems are nowhere but in your head, and if you can accept this fact, you’re about to stop worrying once and for all. If any additional proof needed, pay attention to the fact that 85% of what you worry about never happens, a study reveals.

Mental health maintenance requires a lot of work, and to get rid of worries, you need to have a desire to do it. If you understand that worries prevent you from living a good and happy life, its high time to find what works well for you when it comes to staying calm and satisfied.

Peace And Love Movement Brings Awareness to Foster Care Normalcy Law

In 2013, Florida lawmakers chose to implement the Normalcy Act; a law that requires their state government to allow foster parents to have the right to make decisions about allowing foster children to do simple things such as attend school outings and participate in sports.

In this article, the Florida Department of Children and Families called this the “Let Kids Be Kids” Law.

Most people who I’ve talked to even some child welfare professionals are unaware that such restrictions ever existed. I get to travel the country on a regular basis speaking to judges, lawyers, social workers, foster parents, CASA workers, and foster youth so I have talked to a large amount of these populations.

In actuality, these restrictions causing a foster child to jump through hoops just for permission to attend a school outing still exist in most places.  Sometimes they even have to go all the way back to a judge through social workers and case workers prior to getting a permission slip signed.  This Salt Lake City, UT article shares about a teen girl who had to battle just to be able to join her teammates at a state cheer competition earlier in 2014.

When I was in care, I ended up with a biological aunt who allowed me to forge my mother’s signature to avoid this process. Although some people may not think that is right, I am ever so grateful for that common sense move that she made to simplify my complicated childhood.

But not everyone has such an advocate on their side who is willing (or legally able) to do what is truly in the best interest of a child without serious reprimand.  Therefore, this issue shows up with almost every group of foster youth that I speak to.

After speaking to them to inspire hope for their future, they usually want to take photos with me, but if they are under the age of 18 they can’t because it takes too long to get signed permission for a “media release”.

After a while, I got sick of seeing disappointed faces when a program director would tell kids they can’t take a photo with me.  So, one time in South Dakota, while touring with the Unified Judicial System, I found a way to work around the system.

I asked the entire group of kids to stand facing the wall and I stood in front of them facing the camera.  All of them proceeded to hold up “peace” and “love signs, giving birth to the #PeaceAndLove Movement.

Here is the original group of foster youth who started this movement:

Peace And Love Rapid City, SD Foster Youth | Normalcy Law | Foster Care Speaker Travis Lloyd
Peace And Love Rapid City, SD Foster Youth | Normalcy Law | Foster Care Speaker Travis Lloyd

I now do this Peace And Love activity with almost every audience I speak to.  You can see several of the audiences that have already faced the wall and joined the movement in 4 other states by clicking this link (scroll to the bottom of the page to see all of the photos)  In these photos you will find college students, fortune 500 corporate executives from businesses like Luxotica and Ray Ban, as well as foster parents, judges, and lawyers.

This #PeaceAndLove Movement needs awareness.  The next time you’re with a group, large or small, ask them to turn around and hold their Peace And Love signs up with both hands, as high as they can.  And then take a photo of yourself standing in front of them then add the hash tag #PeaceAndLove.

Don’t forget to check out the other awesome photos and share them with your networks.

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge Raises Awareness

The month of August 2014 has proved to be one that will undoubtedly put a dent in American history. The ALS Association has broken records for their new #IceBucketChallenge campaign reaching nearly 14 million dollars in donations which is a huge jump from last year’s measly 1.7 million.

Ice Bucket ChallengeMedia outlets and social media are buzzing about famous people like Bill Gates, Martha Stewart, Selena Gomez, and Justin Bieber doing the ice bucket challenge.  The most impressive that I’ve seen so far is rapper Macklemore where he takes an icing on stage during a large concert.  No wonder why the ALS Association has seen a jump in 280,000 donors.

In the video below, I share about how ALS (aka Lou Gehrig’s Disease) has impacted me personally and taken the lives of two of my loved ones.  You can watch a celebration of life video that I created for my aunt here.  I also share about an interesting viewpoint comparing the level of awareness that the ice bucket challenged has received with the level of awareness that several other causes, including racism, needs.

At the same time that millions of us are skimming through ALS ice bucket challenge videos on Facebook, an American reporter has reportedly been beheaded by ISIS and in our own backyard, Ferguson, Missouri is in crisis over police shootings.  There is no doubt that the looting, riots, and peaceful protesting is one way or another tied to the deep roots of racism that still exists today.

Also in the video, I ask you to consider the true reasons behind many of the things that are happening in Ferguson and how the world could be improved with increased awareness to tackle the issue of racism that still exists in America today.  What if the truth about racism in America today spread as wide as this ALS Ice Bucket Challenge?  Watch the video now:


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