A new HIV treatment was approved for the public, and that's good news for everyone.

The Food and Drug Administration just approved a new treatment for HIV. Hooray!


Photo by Gilead Sciences, used with permission.


Descovy, a drug made by Gilead Sciences, is a combination of two already-approved drugs used to treat HIV-1, the most common type of HIV.

What's different about this drug? It can do its job effectively but only requires 1/10th the dose of a similar drug. That's great news for the bones and kidneys of people taking the medicine.

“As the first new HIV treatment backbone approved by the FDA in more than a decade, Descovy represents an important evolution in HIV care, " said Norbert Bischofberger, executive vice president of research and development and chief scientific officer at Gilead Sciences.

Now, it's no miracle drug. Descovy does come with strict warnings about certain side effects, and Gilead has yet to announce just how much it will cost.

But for now, file this under "good news"!

Photo by Gilead Sciences, used with permission.

Because even with its flaws, this drug is welcome news for the 1.2 million Americans living with HIV.

In the U.S. alone, around 50,000 new HIV infections occur each year. And nearly 1 in 8 people with the virus aren't aware they have it.

Thanks to scientific breakthroughs like this one, people with the virus can live healthier, longer lives. But economic and social challenges like poverty, lack of health care options, stigma, and homophobia prevent people from getting tested and/or receiving and continuing proper preventive measures or treatment.

While we celebrate announcements like this one about Descovy, it's crucial to also highlight prevention efforts and treatment access.

People gather for the World AIDS Day Vigil and Remembrance Walk to show their support for people living with HIV and to commemorate people who have died. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images.

One big breakthrough that's preventing new infections among the people with the greatest risk is PrEP.

Pre-exposure prophylaxis , or PrEP, is when individuals with a very high risk of contracting HIV (think someone with an HIV-positive partner or a partner using needle drugs) take HIV medicines every day to lower their odds of getting the virus.

Currently, a combination drug sold under the name Truvada is approved for this use, and studies show PrEP is effective at preventing infection when used correctly.

Photo Illustration by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.

Gilead, the company behind Descovy, also makes Truvada. And they work to make sure their therapies and medications are accessible to people who are uninsured or unable to afford copays.

It's not all puppies and rainbows: Gilead is still a drug company, and drug companies are gonna drug company. But through patient-assistance programs and state and federal initiatives, medications like this are now available to more people than ever.

Activists protest the high price of medication on World AIDS Day. Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images.

Whether it's groundbreaking treatments, targeted prevention, or accessibility, we're slowly but surely fighting back against HIV and AIDS.

We've come a long way since the beginning of the epidemic. And thanks to top-notch research, empathy, and an increase in funding and public awareness, we will never go back again.

A candlelight vigil for World Aids Day. Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images.

Heroes
Courtesy of Houseplant.

In America, one dumb mistake can hang over your head forever.

Nearly 30% of the American adult population — about 70 million people — have at least one criminal conviction that can prevent them from being treated equally when it comes to everything from job and housing opportunities to child custody.

Twenty million of these Americans have felony convictions that can destroy their chances of making a comfortable living and prevents them from voting out the lawmakers who imprisoned them.

Many of these convictions are drug-related and stem from the War on Drugs that began in the U.S. '80s. This war has unfairly targeted the minority community, especially African-Americans.

Keep Reading Show less
Culture

Climate change is happening because the earth is warming at an accelerated rate, a significant portion of that acceleration is due to human activity, and not taking measures to mitigate it will have disastrous consequences for life as we know it.

In other words: Earth is heating up, it's kinda our fault, and if we don't fix it, we're screwed.

This is the consensus of the vast majority of the world's scientists who study such things for a living. Case closed. End of story.

How do we know this to be true? Because pretty much every reputable scientific organization on the planet has examined and endorsed these conclusions. Thousands of climate studies have been done, and multiple peer-reviewed studies have been done on those studies, showing that somewhere between 84 and 97 percent of active climate science experts support these conclusions. In fact, the majority of those studies put the consensus well above 90%.

Keep Reading Show less
Nature
via James Anderson

Two years ago, a tweet featuring the invoice for a fixed boiler went viral because the customer, a 91-year-old woman with leukemia, received the services for free.

"No charge for this lady under any circumstances," the invoice read. "We will be available 24 hours to help her and keep her as comfortable as possible."

The repair was done by James Anderson, 52, a father-of-five from Burnley, England. "James is an absolute star, it was overwhelming to see that it cost nothing," the woman's daughter told CNN.

Keep Reading Show less
Heroes

I live in a family with various food intolerances. Thankfully, none of them are super serious, but we are familiar with the challenges of finding alternatives to certain foods, constantly checking labels, and asking restaurants about their ingredients.

In our family, if someone accidentally eats something they shouldn't, it's mainly a bit of inconvenient discomfort. For those with truly life-threatening food allergies, the stakes are much higher.

I can't imagine the ongoing stress of deadly allergy, especially for parents trying to keep their little ones safe.

Keep Reading Show less
popular