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Meet the man behind a new HIV vaccine that could help end the virus for good.

Dr. Robert Gallo has spent decades aiming to end AIDS.

If there ever were a pioneer in the war on AIDS, Dr. Robert Gallo would certainly fit the bill.


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He was among the leading researchers who discovered HIV actually causes AIDS back in 1984.

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That may seem like common knowledge today. But back in the 1980s — when the AIDS crisis was ravaging communities across the U.S. and very little was known about the virus — it was nothing short of groundbreaking.

He then spearheaded a blood test that can detect the virus in humans.

Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images.

The blood test has had big ramifications in curbing HIV infections, as health care workers became equipped to rapidly diagnose infected patients.

And on Oct. 8, 2015, Gallo was at it again, announcing yet another big step in the fight against HIV: His potentially game-changing vaccine is going to human trial.

Photo by Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images.

Sure, there are other HIV-fighting vaccines in human trial (about 30, in fact). But Gallo's vaccine, which has taken his team at the University of Maryland's Institute of Human Virology nearly two decades to produce, stands out ... in a good way.

There are many strains of HIV that can affect the immune system. And that makes creating a universal vaccine that stops all of them a bit tricky. If proven successful, however, Gallo's vaccine would protect patients' immune systems from the variations of the virus classified under "HIV-1," which constitutes the vast majority of infections worldwide.

"Our HIV/AIDS vaccine candidate is designed to bind to the virus at the moment of infection, when many different strains of HIV found around the world can be neutralized. We believe this mechanism is a major prerequisite for an effective HIV preventive vaccine." — Dr. Gallo

Enrollment in the trial opened this month, and the institute is looking for 60 people to participate in its year-long phase 1, according to The Baltimore Sun.

It's a promising step forward in the fight against a virus that's had a massive impact on global health.

There are about 35 million people living with HIV/AIDS around the world, according to the World Health Organization. About 1.5 million people died from the virus in 2013 alone. Sub-Saharan Africa — where nearly 71% of people living with HIV globally reside — has been affected far more than other regions of the world.

An HIV-positive mother holds her baby in Malawi. Photo by Marco Longari/AFP/Getty Images.

Although new medicines have helped HIV patients live longer, healthier lives, there is still no cure for the virus. And even for those fortunate enough to be living in regions with access to such medicines, drugs can be expensive (although that doesn't stop some greedy pharmaceutical company CEOs from inflating prices even further ... yeah, I'm talking about you, Martin Shkreli).

Gallo's vaccine could be huge. But even if it turns out to be, there are plenty of hurdles before patients can benefit.

Gallo's announcement is exciting! But let's not put the cart before the horse. Before the vaccine gets clearance from the FDA and becomes a welcomed reality for patients, it has to successfully pass a range of human trials. And that will take several years to complete.

Photo by Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images.

But Gallo is confident the long road ahead will bring promising results.

"Can I promise absolute success? No," Gallo said of the vaccine's potential, according to The Baltimore Sun. "Do I hope it leads to a series of advances in the fields? Yes. And I think it will lead to some advances."

Moricz was banned from speaking up about LGBTQ topics. He found a brilliant workaround.

Senior class president Zander Moricz was given a fair warning: If he used his graduation speech to criticize the “Don’t Say Gay” law, then his microphone would be shut off immediately.

Moricz had been receiving a lot of attention for his LGBTQ activism prior to the ceremony. Moricz, an openly gay student at Pine View School for the Gifted in Florida, also organized student walkouts in protest and is the youngest public plaintiff in the state suing over the law formally known as the Parental Rights in Education law, which prohibits the discussion of sexual orientation or gender identity in grades K-3.

Though well beyond third grade, Moricz nevertheless was also banned from speaking up about the law, gender or sexuality. The 18-year-old tweeted, “I am the first openly-gay Class President in my school’s history–this censorship seems to show that they want me to be the last.”

However, during his speech, Moricz still delivered a powerful message about identity. Even if he did have to use a clever metaphor to do it.

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Matthew McConaughey in 2019.

Oscar-winning actor Matthew McConaughey made a heartfelt plea for Americans to “do better” on Tuesday after a gunman murdered 19 children and 2 adults at Robb Elementary School in his hometown of Uvalde, Texas.

Uvalde is a small town of about 16,000 residents approximately 85 miles west of San Antonio. The actor grew up in Uvalde until he was 11 years old when his family moved to Longview, 430 miles away.

The suspected murderer, 18-year-old Salvador Ramos, was killed by law enforcement at the scene of the crime. Before the rampage, Ramos allegedly shot his grandmother after a disagreement.

“As you all are aware there was another mass shooting today, this time in my home town of Uvalde, Texas,” McConaughey wrote in a statement shared on Twitter. “Once again, we have tragically proven that we are failing to be responsible for the rights our freedoms grant us.”

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Joy

50-years ago they trade a grilled cheese for a painting. Now it's worth a small fortune.

Irene and Tony Demas regularly traded food at their restaurant in exchange for crafts. It paid off big time.

Photo by Gio Bartlett on Unsplash

Painting traded for grilled cheese worth thousands.

The grilled cheese at Irene and Tony Demas’ restaurant was truly something special. The combination of freshly baked artisan bread and 5-year-old cheddar was enough to make anyone’s mouth water, but no one was nearly as devoted to the item as the restaurant’s regular, John Kinnear.

Kinnear loved the London, Ontario restaurant's grilled cheese so much that he ordered it every single day, though he wouldn’t always pay for it in cash. The Demases were well known for bartering their food in exchange for odds and ends from local craftspeople and merchants.

“Everyone supported everyone back then,” Irene told the Guardian, saying that the couple would often trade free soup and a sandwich for fresh flowers. Two different kinds of nourishment, you might say.

And so, in the 1970s the Demases made a deal with Kinnear that he could pay them for his grilled cheese sandwiches with artwork. Being a painter himself and part of an art community, Kinnear would never run out of that currency.

Little did Kinnear—or anyone—know, eventually he would give the Demases a painting worth an entire lifetime's supply of grilled cheeses. And then some.

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