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Heroes

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.

Pedro Pascal and Bowen Yang can't keep a straight face as Ego Nwodim tries to cut her steak.

Most episodes of “Saturday Night Live” are scheduled so the funnier bits go first and the riskier, oddball sketches appear towards the end, in case they have to be cut for time. But on the February 4 episode featuring host Pedro Pascal (“The Mandalorian,” “The Last of Us”), the final sketch, “Lisa from Temecula,” was probably the most memorable of the night.

That’s high praise because it was a strong episode, with a funny “Last of Us” parody featuring the Super Mario Brothers and a sketch where Pascal played a protective mother.

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AMC Theaters/Youtube, Variety/Twitter

AMC announced that it would be implementing a new three-tier ticketing system.

AMC Theaters, America’s largest movie theater chain, announced on Feb 6 that it will be adopting different ticket prices based on seat location.

Moviegoers will have three tiers to choose from based on sightline of the movie screen—Preferred Sightline, set in the middle at the highest price point, Value Sightline, set in the front of the auditorium at the lowest price, and Standard Sightline, which is basically everything else (including the back seats, which are perhaps the most commonly picked) set at the traditional cost of a ticket.

In other words…heartbreak will feel more expensive in a place like this…or less, depending on where you sit



The company’s announcement was met with both criticism and approval. While some feel the move follows a well-established business model, others have found it to be taking away a valued aspect of the moviegoing experience.

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Pop Culture

Keanu Reeves shocks a small-town pub by stopping in for a pint and taking photos with the staff

“So today we had a surprise visitor for lunch. What a lovely man he was, too."

Keanu Reeves in São Paulo, Brazil, 2019.

Keanu Reeves has a reputation as one of Hollywood’s nicest celebrities. Recently, he cheered up an 80-year-old fan who had a crush on him by calling her on the phone. He’s also bought an ice cream cone for a fan to give an autograph on the receipt and crashed a wedding to take photos with the bride and groom.

He’s also an incredible humanitarian who gave up a big chunk of his money from "The Matrix" to a cancer charity.

The “John Wick” star was his usual gracious self over the weekend when on Saturday, February 4, he and a friend walked into The Robin Hood pub in Tring, Hertfordshire, about 30 miles outside of London.

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via Pexels

A mother puts a fresh diaper on her baby.

Scientists at Penn State University have devised a “smart diaper” that alerts parents when their baby is wet. The diaper is made of paper, treated with sodium chloride (salt) and has a circuit board drawn with a pencil.

When the humidity level rises in the diaper, the graphite and the urine are absorbed by the paper and it turns on a sensor powered by a small lithium battery. The sensor then sets the alarm on an app that parents download onto their phones.

“The hydration sensor is highly sensitive to changes in humidity and provides accurate readings over a wide range of relative humidity levels, from 5.6% to 90%,” the researchers at Penn State said in a statement.

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Pop Culture

Kelly Clarkson and Pink's gorgeous unplugged 'What About Us?' duet came with a timely​ message

"We're not listening to each other right now. And it's so loud, and so gross, and so angry…"

Pink and Kelly Clarkson teamed up for a sweet acoustic version of "What About Us?"

Pink and Kelly Clarkson are both known for having powerhouse voices that can belt at incredible ranges but also soften for a sweet ballad. Put the two of them together, and…well, dang.

On Feb 6, Clarkson featured Pink on her daytime talk show, in which she often sings with musical guests. The two superstars sang several acoustic duets with pitch-perfect harmonies, prompting fans of both artists to clamor for a collaborative album.

One song they sang together was Pink's "What About Us?" Pink previously described the song to The Sun in 2017: "The world in general is a really scary place full of beautiful people. Humans are resilient and there's a lot of wonderful—like I said in the song—'billions of beautiful hearts' and there are bad eggs in every group. And they make it really hard for the rest of us."

In the intro to their duet, Clarkson asked Pink about the impetus behind her writing the song.

"We're not listening to each other right now. And it's so loud, and so gross, and so angry and people are being forgotten," Pink shared. "People are being counted out and their rights are being trampled on just because a group of people doesn't believe in them."

"Like, I don't understand how so many people in this world are discounted because one group of people decided they don't like that," she continued. "And I won't—I won't have it. One of the most beautiful things that my dad taught me was that my voice matters and I can make a difference, and I will."

The lyrics of the song seem to address the political leaders and decision-makers who hold people's lives in their hands as they pull the levers of power. It's a beautiful song with an important message wrapped up in gorgeous two-part harmony.

Enjoy:

Saturday Night Live/Youtube

"It's a me."

Pedro Pascal and HBO seem to be a match made in pop culture heaven. His role in the fourth season of “Game of Thrones” shot him to notoriety. He’s currently starring in “Last of Us,” which also boasts a massive viewership.

And now, thanks to one epic “Saturday Night Live” skit, fans are clamoring to see Pascal take on a new role—a brooding, hardened, princess smuggling Mario.

The faux trailer imagines the video game Mario Kart as a quintessential HBO drama. Mario (Pascal) has to use his driving skills to get Princess Peach (played by Chloe Fineman) through an apocalyptic Mushroom Kingdom.
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