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Cuba just made a major AIDS breakthrough no other country has been able to achieve.

A successful public health initiative in Cuba could help prevent mother-to-child HIV transmission worldwide.

Cuba just made a major AIDS breakthrough no other country has been able to achieve.

We're one step closer to ending the AIDS epidemic, thanks to a recent breakthrough from Cuba.

Yes, you read that right. This is big news.


Seen one of these ribbons around? It's the international symbol for AIDS treatment and prevention. Photo by Yasuyoshi Chiba/AFP/Getty Images.

In 2010, Cuba partnered with the World Health Organization to tackle the spread of HIV and syphilis.

We hear most often about STDs spreading through needle sharing or unprotected sex, but a large percentage of HIV/AIDS cases occur when the disease is passed from mothers to their children during birth or breastfeeding.

Many of the estimated 1.4 million HIV-positive women who get pregnant each year don't even know they've been infected with HIV to begin with. And without any treatment, those women have a 45% chance of infecting their children with HIV, too.

Cuba approached this crazy-huge issue with the help of their equitable, accessible, and universal health care system.

According to The Guardian, Cuba's regional initiative provided HIV and syphilis testing for all pregnant women and their partners.

Yep. Every. Single. Cuban. Citizen.

If adorable babies like these (and their mothers) can be treated within a system like Cuba's, HIV could be a thing of the past. Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images.

In addition to testing, this care was available for each woman throughout her pregnancy and childbirth. If a woman tested positive for HIV, she was given special treatments that included medication, breastfeeding substitutes, and a cesarean delivery.

All it took was two key tactics: providing universal access to health care and focusing on disease prevention in local clinics. Then the people of Cuba started seeing incredible results.

Now, Cuba has become the first country in the world to virtually eliminate the spread of HIV and syphilis from mother to child.

When the World Health Organization announced this good news, they shared some amazing statistics: In the past year, there were less than 50 cases of mother-to-child-transmitted HIV for every 100,000 live births in Cuba.

Plus, more than 95% of HIV-positive Cuban women now know their HIV status and have access to antiviral drugs. Whoa.

The rest of the world can do what Cuba did. But without universal, equitable, and accessible health care systems, it will be a slower process.

Cuba gets a lot of press for their health care system, which is generally great despite the country's economic disparities. This is yet another example.

But there's some good news for everyone else in the world, too.

Like this statistic, which also comes from the World Health Organization: As of 2013, more than half of HIV-positive pregnant women in low- and middle-income countries around the world were able to get the medications they needed to protect their children from HIV. ("More than half" might not sound like a lot, but with an estimated 35 million adults and children living with HIV, that's a pretty big group.)

And even better, "The number of children born annually with HIV has almost halved since 2009 — down from 400,000 in 2009 to 240,000 in 2013."

With that, we're one step closer to an AIDS-free generation.

After years of social movement toward ending the stigma around AIDS and increasing prevention, we may be seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. Photo by Dubyangshu Sarkar/Getty Images.

Despite significant political and economic struggle, Cuba has revealed two important pieces in what had previously seemed like an impossible puzzle. Focusing on prevention and providing universal health care as a human right brings us one step closer to potentially putting an end to the transmission of a deadly disease.

The United Nations even has a plan for scaling this incredible initiative to the rest of the world, too. I can't wait to see what happens.

When "bobcat" trended on Twitter this week, no one anticipated the unreal series of events they were about to witness. The bizarre bobcat encounter was captured on a security cam video and...well...you just have to see it. (Read the following description if you want to be prepared, or skip down to the video if you want to be surprised. I promise, it's a wild ride either way.)

In a North Carolina neighborhood that looks like a present-day Pleasantville, a man carries a cup of coffee and a plate of brownies out to his car. "Good mornin!" he calls cheerfully to a neighbor jogging by. As he sets his coffee cup on the hood of the car, he says, "I need to wash my car." Well, shucks. His wife enters the camera frame on the other side of the car.

So far, it's just about the most classic modern Americana scene imaginable. And then...

A horrifying "rrrrawwwww!" Blood-curdling screaming. Running. Panic. The man abandons the brownies, races to his wife's side of the car, then emerges with an animal in his hands. He holds the creature up like Rafiki holding up Simba, then yells in its face, "Oh my god! It's a bobcat! Oh my god!"

Then he hucks the bobcat across the yard with all his might.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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