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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.

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

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


Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images.


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

Photo by Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images.

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."

Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

Last year, we shared the sad impact that plastic pollution has had on some of our planet's most beautiful places. With recycling not turning out to be the savior it was made out to be, solutions to our growing plastic problem can seem distant and complex.

We have seen some glimmers of hope from both human innovation and nature itself, however. In 2016, a bacteria that evolved with the ability to break down plastic was discovered in a Japanese waste site. Two years later, scientists managed to engineer the mutant plastic-eating enzyme they called PETase—named for polyethylene terephthalate, the most common plastic found in bottles and food packaging—in a lab.

Here's an explainer of how those enzymes work:

Ending Plastic Pollution with Designer Bacteria youtu.be

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Learn more on how cities are taking action: c40.org/divest-invest


Former CBS News anchor Dan Rather has become a beloved voice of reason, knowledge, and experience for many Americans on social media the past few years. At 88, Rather has seen more than most of us, and as a journalist, he's had a front row seat as modern history has played out. He combines that lifetime of experience and perspective with an eloquence that hearkens to a time when eloquence mattered, he called us to our common American ideals with his book "What Unites Us," and he comforts many of is with his repeated message to stay "steady" through the turmoil the U.S. has been experiencing.

All of that is to say, when Dan Rather sounds the alarm, you know we've reached a critical historical moment.

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Editor's Note: We used "black" in lowercase for our headline and the body of this story in accordance with emerging guidelines from the Associated Press and other trusted news outlets who are using uppercase "Black" in reference to American descendants of the diaspora of individuals forcibly brought from Africa as slaves. As part of our ongoing efforts to be transparent and communicate choices with our readership, we've included this note for clarity. The original story begins below.

On February 26, 2019, Stacy and Babajide Omirin of Lagos, Nigeria got quite the shock. When Stacy delivered identical twins through C-section one came out black and the other, white.

The parents knew they were having identical twins and expected them to look exactly the same. But one has a white-looking complexion and golden, wavy hair.

"It was a massive surprise," Stacy told The Daily Mail. "Daniel came first, and then the nurse said the second baby has golden hair. I thought how can this be possible. I looked down and saw David, he was completely white."

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