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US and World News

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    Nobody is more likely to test the new administration than Russia's Vladimir Putin, according to NBC News.

    The Russian president has already overlapped with three American presidents and his government's actions colored the U.S. campaign long before Trump's November election win.

    U.S. intelligence officials believe with "a high level of confidence" that Putin became personally involved in the covert Russian campaign to interfere with the White House election, two senior officials have told NBC News. 

    Amid other moves, such as relocating nuclear weapons and venturing into neglected territories, Putin's Russia seems determined to challenge American leadership across the globe. Beneath that boldness, there is profound distrust between the two countries.



    Photo Credit: Getty Images, File

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    Americans will likely name President Barack Obama the most admired man in 2016 — the ninth consecutive year he will get the nod, according to a Gallop poll. 

    The poll was conducted Dec. 7 to 11 and asked a random sample of more than 1,000 Americans to name the man and woman they most admire. Obama was mentioned by 22 percent of respondents, earning him the number one spot. 

    President-elect Donald Trump finished second in the poll and was mentioned by 15 percent of those surveyed. 

    Hillary Clinton earned the top spot in the female category for the 15th year in a row, with 12 percent of those surveyed responding with her name. Michelle Obama was second, with eight percent of respondents replying with her name. 

    Reverend Billy Graham also made it into the top ten most admired men this year, making it the 60th year he's done so. 

    Graham has been in the top ten every since 1955, with the exception of 1962 and 1976, when the survey was not conducted, Gallop said in a statement. 



    Photo Credit: AP

    President Barack Obama speaks at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Fla., Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2016, about the administration's approach to counterterrorism campaign.President Barack Obama speaks at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Fla., Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2016, about the administration's approach to counterterrorism campaign.

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    It's a tradition for NBC News to sum up the oddest, silliest and most head-scratching political moments of the year, but this year was a strange one.

    Even if the social media fodder from the deeply divisive battle between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton election now feels as stale as Christmas leftovers, there were plenty of other hilarious moments from 2016 that remind us that we're all human — even in politics.

    There was the good old-fashioned physical humor of Ben Carson spectacularly bungling his entrance to the February ABC News debate. That month, fellow candidate for the Republican presidential nomination Jeb Bush implored an audience to "please clap" as he spoke at a town hall.

    Democrats weren't strangers to unintentional comedy either: California Senate candidate Loretta Sanchez tried dabbing at the end of a debate, earning a side-eye from her eventually victorious opponent.

    And that doesn't even touch on Ken Bone, Birdie Sanders and the rest of politics' funniest moments of the year.



    Photo Credit: Getty Images/NBC, File
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    A man driving to Fairfield in August 2015 was arrested after "weaving in and out of traffic almost causing several collisions," but he wasn't under the influence of alcohol, according to the arresting officer.

    Following a blood test, caffeine was determined to be the only drug pumping through the driver's system, as reported by NBC affiliate KCRA.

    After stopping the driver, who was identified as 36-year-old Joseph Schwab, the arresting officer found legal workout supplements in the car, conducted multiple field sobriety tests and noticed that Schwab's pupils were dilated, according to KCRA.

    Solano County District Attorney Krishna Abrams added that "the driver seemed very amped up, very agitated, very combative, and (the arresting officer) thought he was under the influence of something," according to KCRA.

    Schwab maintains his innocence.

    "I was 100 percent confident that I was not under the influence of anything," he told KCRA.

    That plea doesn't seem to be working.

    Abrams is still attempting to finalize a DUI charge, but she admitted that a conviction will not be simple to pull off, as reported by KCRA. The district attorney claims that an unknown drug, which did not register on the original blood test, is what truly impaired Schwab's driving ability.

    Yes, caffeine is a drug, but it is not often associated with impaired driving, independent forensic toxicologist Edwin Smith told KCRA.

    Smith believes that the drug could actually improve a driver's ability to stay focused behind the wheel.

    Schwab and his attorney have filed a motion to have any charges be dismissed, according to KCRA. In their minds, driving while being under the influence of caffeine is not a criminal act.



    Photo Credit: Getty Images

    File imageFile image

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    Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday said American allies "won't be swayed or intimidated by a tweet" from President-elect Donald Trump, who has repeatedly weighed in on foreign affairs despite not yet taking office, NBC News reported.

    In an exclusive interview with NBC's Andrea Mitchell, Kerry said he would not get into a "debate" with Trump, but suggested U.S. allies have been "affected" by the president-elect's recent commentary on U.S.-Israeli relations and other sensitive foreign policy issues.

    Trump's rhetoric recent is widely seen as a break from the tradition of deference to the sitting president during a period of transition.



    Photo Credit: AP

    Secretary of State John Kerry speaks about Israeli-Palestinian policy, Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2016, at the State Department in Washington.Secretary of State John Kerry speaks about Israeli-Palestinian policy, Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2016, at the State Department in Washington.

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    UPDATE: Ex-Student Who Fathered Teacher's Child Killed in Anger Over Boy Being Dressed in Girl's Clothing; Video Shows Him Pacing Outside Apartment on Day of Killings: NYPD

    The ex-lover of a former New York City schoolteacher has been arrested on murder charges after the woman and their 4-year-old son were found dead in her Manhattan apartment Monday. 

    Isaac Duran Infante, 23, was taken into custody Tuesday in the deaths of 36-year-old Felicia Barahona and their 4-year-old son Miguel, and confessed to killing them, a law enforcement source told NBC 4 New York.

    The medical examiner has determined Barahona died from strangulation by the electrical cord, and her son died of asphyxia from neck compression.

    Duran Infante was a former student of Barahona's, and their son was born from their affair, which began when he was 17 years old.

    A source told NBC 4 New York that Duran Infante, of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, confessed to the double killing in part because he was dissatisfied with the way his son was being raised by Barahona. 

    Duran Infante said nothing to reporters as he was led in handcuffs from the police stationhouse where he was interviewed.

    His anguished grandmother, who lives in the Bronx, told NBC 4 New York in Spanish she wanted justice and that she knows her grandson is innocent of the charges.  

    Another relative of Duran Infante, Janiel Santana, said, "It's hard to believe they're dead. When we heard the news, we thought this has got to be a mistake." 

    The couple shared custody of the child, relatives said. Miguel's father's side of the family was expecting to see the boy for New Year's Eve to give him his Christmas presents. 

    Barahona lost her job as a science teacher at DeWitt Clinton High School in 2013, shortly after she became pregnant and school administrators learned of her illicit relationship with a student. 

    Felicia Barahona was found dead, an electrical cord wrapped around her neck, on the living room floor of her West 153rd Street apartment in Hamilton Heights around 8:15 a.m. Monday after the building super was alerted about a smell, police said. Her son Miguel was found unresponsive in a bathtub, police said. Investigators believe the duo had been dead several days.

    Neighbors described Miguel as a sweet boy.

    "It's sad. It's a little life," said Elia Flores, adding of his mother, "I've known her for a lot of years that she live here."


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    Uber passengers at Washington-area airports said some ride-share drivers are refusing to pick them up, because they don’t want to take the travelers where they want to go.

    An Uber driver is never supposed to know the destination until the trip has started. But some drivers are said to be calling passengers in advance and finding out where the passengers want to go, which is against Uber policy.

    If the driver thinks the trip isn’t worth their time, because they think the trip is too short, too long or they just don’t want to go to the destination, the drivers won’t pick up the passengers, the passengers said.

    "I just wanted to get home,” Uber customer Landon Geurkink said. “We had just been traveling for a couple hours in the air. It was cold out."

    Geurkink said he had to go through five separate Uber drivers before one finally picked him up at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. He said the drivers thought his relatively short trip to downtown D.C. wasn't worth the trip after calling him to find out his destination.

    "He's, like, I just wanted to know where you are headed? I just said, ‘Oh, downtown D.C.,’” Geurkirk said. “Another minute later, he canceled."

    Other drivers may have manipulated the Uber app or used a separate app to figure out the final destination and then decided they didn't want the trip. Some Uber drivers said they knew all about this technique, and some admitted they have ended trip requests based on destination.

    "I know that I have canceled drives before that I thought were too long," one driver said.

    Uber released a statement about the practice.

    “Ridesharing apps are changing a transportation status quo that has been unequal for generations, making it easier and more affordable for people to get around, no matter where they live and where they're going."

    Per Uber's deactivation policy, each city has a maximum cancellation rate, based on the average cancellation rate in that area, after which point a driver may be barred from using the app.

    Uber riders can rate their driver and provide anonymous feedback about their trip. Uber said they do take feedback seriously.

    The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority said they are looking into the practice of the Uber drivers avoiding some trips.



    Photo Credit: Getty Images, File

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    Hatchimals were the hottest item of the holiday season, but with some parents complaining they took hours to hatch, the toy may not be all it's cracked up to be, CNBC reported.

    The interactive toy from Spin Master hatches from a plastic egg, but some parents took to Twitter to say it took hours for their kids' Hatchimals to hatch, if they did at all, and that batteries weren't lasting long.

    The toy retails for about $50 but sold for upward of $250 on eBay prior to the holidays.

    Spin Master urged customers on Twitter to direct message the company for assistance or to contact its customer service number, and released a statement to NBC10 Philadelphia apologizing for any defective toys: "Unfortunately, with toys that incorporate a high level of technology, there are also some cases where the product may not perform as expected."



    Photo Credit: Bloomberg via Getty Images

    The Hatchimals Hatching Egg toy is displayed with Black Friday specials at a Wal-Mart Stores Inc. location in Burbank, California, on Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2016. (Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images)The Hatchimals Hatching Egg toy is displayed with Black Friday specials at a Wal-Mart Stores Inc. location in Burbank, California, on Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2016. (Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

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    A former Versace employee has filed a discrimination lawsuit against the company, alleging it uses a code word to alert workers when black shoppers enter the store.

    Christopher Sampino, 23, says he was fired from the Versace outlet store in Livermore, California, after two weeks despite meeting and "exceeding expectations." 

    Sampino accuses the company of training him and other workers to use the code "D410" or hold up a black colored shirt when a black person entered the store, the lawsuit alleges. "D410" is the same code used for black-colored items of clothing, the suit states.

    He alleges to have complained about the discrimination during new employee training, telling a manager "You know that I'm African-American?" In the lawsuit, Sampiro self-identifies as one-quarter African American. 

    The lawsuit claims after the revelation he was denied proper training and rest breaks, and was fired because "he didn't understand luxury."

    Sampino is suing for damages and unpaid wages. He earned $13 an hour and worked 40 hours a week. His lawyers, Michael Robert Hoffman and Stephen Noel Ilg, said that he is owed $59,800 in back pay and other monetary losses, $25,000 for emotional distress, and at least $100,000 for "race-related" punitive damages. The attorneys noted they should also be paid $65,000 in attorney fees.

    In a statement, Versace denies the allegations and attorney Joseph Alan Schwachter said the company plans to file for dismissal.

    "We do not tolerate discrimination on the basis of race, national origin or any other characteristic protected by our civil rights laws," the statement says.

    The suit was filed Dec. 16 in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, although a version of the allegations was first filed in Alameda County Superior Court on Nov. 16, before it moved to federal court.

    According to court documents, Judge Kandis A. Westmore ordered the case be assigned to an Alternative Dispute Resolution. The first case management conference is scheduled for March 21.



    Photo Credit: Getty Images file

    File photo of Versace logo.File photo of Versace logo.

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    A 14-year-old girl’s message to a friend led police to a horrific scene in North Carolina where the teen was allegedly being held captive and her mother killed, authorities said. 

    A 47-year-old man wanted in Ohio was charged with murder in the crime authorities called “demonic," according to NBC affiliate WYFF4.

    Gary Stephen Love was charged after he fled from officers questioning him after conducting a welfare check Monday morning at a home near Statesville, according to the Iredell County Sheriff’s office. Deputies reported they went to the house after a 14-year-old girl sent a friend a message asking for help. 

    When officers arrived, Love reportedly told them the teen girl and her mom were at a funeral. He ran away from authorities during questioning and was later taken into custody, police said. 

    Inside the home, police found the body of a 46-year-old woman and authorities say the teen told them she’d been held inside the home since Christmas Eve. She said she had reportedly not seen her mother since that day. 

    The sheriff’s office said there are indications that one or both of the victims may have suffered violent sexual attacks while being held.  

    Love had reportedly been in North Carolina for roughly 90 days and knew the woman from childhood. The sheriff's office said he had an outstanding arrest warrant for domestic violence-related charges in Ohio and an active protection order against him in the state. 

    The sheriff's office expects more charges could be filed in the North Carolina case. 



    Photo Credit: Iredell County Sheriff's Office

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    A New York City Uber driver has been given a green light, and then some.

    Noah Forman says he managed to hit about 240 green lights in a row earlier this month in Manhattan — and he’s captured video to prove it.

    It's not the first time he's attempted the feat: he hit 186 greens back in 2015 when he was driving a yellow cab. Video of that journey shows him driving from Battery Park to Central Park and back down to the World Trade Center.

    But in the early morning hours of Dec. 6, Forman hit the streets with the aim of shattering his previous record. 

    During the nearly 30-minute trip, he zigzagged from Harlem down to Washington Square Park, then back up to 59th Street and down again to the Lower East Side, where he finally hit his first red light.

    A friend edited Forman's uncut video down to four minutes and said the feat might just be a world record. 

    Forman confirmed reports that he'd like to eventually double his number to around 500 green lights — and bring new meaning to "going green."



    Photo Credit: Noah Forman
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    A Florida woman is accused of trashing a Tampa Starbucks after employees refused to give her change for the bus.

    Abigail Juanita Rowe, 32, walked into the Starbucks on Big Bend Road and asked for change, according to the Hillsborough Sheriff's Office. When a barista told her they don’t open the register for change, deputies say Rowe started knocking over display shelves and turning over tables and chairs. 

    Leslie McHugh said she was standing in line when Rowe threw a temper tantrum and captured the aftermath on cellphone video.

    "It took me a second to realize no one was joking around. She was legitimately angry," explained McHugh.

    McHugh's 7-year-old daughter was at her side and she moved to protect her child as the situation escalated.

    "The lady shoved over a couple of displays. [My daughter] wasn't injured but it scared her and fell on her legs," said McHugh.

    At the end of the video, a Starbucks employee can be heard helping McHugh's daughter. "I was really impressed with the staff. They ushered us into the back room, a stock room."

    Other customers, three men and a woman, moved in to subdue the erratic woman. McHugh said the woman wanted to leave, telling the customers police officers knew where to find her. The customers refused and held her down until police arrived.

    When deputies arrived, they arrested her. While searching, they say they found marijuana and paraphernalia in her pockets.

    Authorities said Rowe would undergo a mental evaluation. Rowe is charged with criminal mischief, trespassing and possession of marijuana.



    Photo Credit: Hillsborough Sheriff’s Office

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    The Amazon Echo is a voice-activated smart speaker that plays music, gives the weather forecast and updates its owner's shopping lists, among other everyday tasks.

    But prosecutors in Arkansas believe one such virtual assistant may hold something far more crucial: data that can help in a murder trial.

    The case against Bentonville resident James Bates is gaining national attention after prosecutors confirmed there is an active warrant to obtain information from his Amazon Echo, NBC News reported.

    While Benton County prosecutor Nathan Smith told NBC News they're not trying to force Amazon to comply with the warrant — and the e-commerce giant says it has refused anyway — the case is putting a spotlight on how newer types of personal technology have become sought-after pieces of evidence.



    Photo Credit: AP

    FileFile

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    Oregon state troopers and workers from the state's Department of Fish and Wildlife teamed up Wednesday to rescue a young deer trapped on a frozen pond.

    A motorist on Interstate 84 called 911 after seeing the stranded deer, which was saved by officials using a drift boat, according to KGW.com.

    The deer was helped off the ice and wandered away.



    Photo Credit: Oregon State Police
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    The Oregon State Police and Department of Fish and Wildlife rescued a young deer when it became stranded on an ice-covered pond near The Dalles on Dec. 21, 2016.The Oregon State Police and Department of Fish and Wildlife rescued a young deer when it became stranded on an ice-covered pond near The Dalles on Dec. 21, 2016.

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    With no official place in Hollywood to honor the late Carrie Fisher, fans took it upon themselves to craft a tribute to the actress, author and activist by decorating a blank star on the Walk of Fame. Beverly White reports for the NBC4 News at 11 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 27, 2016.

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    The New Year usually comes with new resolutions, but change can be hard, especially once life goes back to normal after the holidays. To succeed with resolutions going forward, sports psychologist Dr. Stephen Graef at Ohio State's Wexner Medical Center recommends looking to the past.

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    Donald Trump said Wednesday that Sprint will bring back 5,000 jobs to the United States while another company, OneWeb, will hire 3,000 workers. 

    "Because of what is happening and the spirit and the hope, I was just called by the head people at Sprint and they are going to be bringing 5,000 jobs back to the United States, they have taken them from other countries," Trump said outside his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.

    The president-elect said the deal "was done through" SoftBank CEO and the current chairman of Sprint Corp., Masayoshi Son, a Japanese billionaire and technology investor. Son also owns OneWest, a startup internet company.

    The telecom mogul promised to invest $50 billion in the U.S. and create 50,000 jobs after a private meeting with Trump in December, The Wall Street Journal reported. A Sprint spokesperson told NBC News the jobs announced Wednesday are part of Son's earlier commitment, but the 5,000 jobs will be funded by Sprint, not SoftBank.

    Sprint has struggled under SoftBank. The carrier shed roughly 9,000 workers between 2012 and 2016, reducing its staff to 30,000, according to annual reports, The Associated Press reported.

    In 2014, federal regulators objected to Sprint's attempt to join with rival T-Mobile, a merger that would have combined two of the four largest mobile telecom companies in the United States. But a Trump administration would be more likely to approve blockbuster mergers, including a deal between Sprint and T-Mobile, analysts say.

    Sprint Chief Executive Marcelo Claure said in a statement that the company is "excited" to work with Trump.

    “We are excited to work with President-Elect Trump and his Administration to do our part to drive economic growth and create jobs in the U.S.,” Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure said in a statement following the announcement. “We believe it is critical for business and government to partner together to create more job opportunities in the U.S. and ensure prosperity for all Americans.”

    During his campaign, the New York businessman pledged to do more to protect workers' interest and singled out numerous companies for criticism.

    Earlier this month, Trump brokered a deal to keep a Carrier plant in Indiana and save about 1,000 jobs. Under the proposed deal with Carrier's parent company United Technologies, the company would receive $7 million in financial incentives over 10 years in exchange for a guarantee that Carrier would retain at least 1,000 jobs and invest $16 million into its Indiana operation, a source familiar with the talks said, NBC News reported.

    He has also called on Boeing and Lockheed Martin Corp to lower their costs for U.S. military and government projects.

    On Tuesday, Trump thanked himself for a surge in a key gauge of consumer confidence. He wrote on Twitter that the Conference Board had reported that its consumer confidence index had climbed to 113.7 in December, the highest the index has climbed in more than 15 years.

    "Thanks Donald!" he wrote.

    The Sprint announcement came after tensions rose and fell Wednesday between Trump and President Barack Obama. The president-elect accused president Obama of throwing up "inflammatory" roadblocks during the transition of power and said his administration has treated Israel with "total disdain and disrespect."

    "Doing my best to disregard the many inflammatory President O statements and roadblocks," Trump tweeted Wednesday morning. "Thought it was going to be a smooth transition — NOT!"

    However, later Wednesday Trump told journalists at Mar-a-Lago that the changeover of power is going "very, very smoothly."

    The reversal appeared to come after Trump and Obama spoke privately. “He phoned me,” Trump told reporters. “We had a very nice conversation.”

    White House spokesman Eric Schultz said Obama phoned Trump. "Today's call, like the others since the election, was positive and focused on continuing a smooth and effective transition," Schultz said. "The president and president-elect committed to staying in touch over the next several weeks."


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    The Obama administration is preparing retaliatory actions against Russia for its alleged involvement in cyber-attacks on Democratic Party institutions in order to interfere in the presidential election, two senior U.S. officials confirmed to NBC News.

    As early as Thursday or Friday, a 2015 Obama executive order will be updated to announce the retaliatory steps, the officials said.

    The announced steps will likely include economic sanctions coordinated by the Treasury Department.

    Unannounced steps will be covert and will involve cyber option — although the U.S. has been very careful to try to avoid engaging Russia in an all-out cyber war, the officials said.



    Photo Credit: Getty Images

    U.S. President Barack Obama, left, and Russian President Vladimir Putin.U.S. President Barack Obama, left, and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

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    Just a day after actress Carrie Fisher died, her grieving mother Debbie Reynolds passed away. She was 84.

    “She's gone to be with Carrie,” her son Todd Fisher told NBC News. " She loved taking care of her and now she's gone to be with her."

    The "Singing' in the Rain" star was rushed to a California hospital earlier Wednesday after suffering a medical emergency.

    The double tragedy deals a blow to Reynolds and Fisher families, which are still mourning Fisher's death.

    Hollywood is also in shock over the successive losses of two icons. Fellow actors and celebrities took to social media to send condolences to the families.

    "A final curtain made of tears #DebbieReynolds #CarrieFisher," actress Rose McGowan wrote on Twitter.

    Ellen Degeneres, actress Illeana Douglas and actor Albert Brooks expressed their disbelief over Reynold's death one day after her daughter's.

    "Debbie Reynolds was one of the last of Hollywood Royalty. It breaks my heart that she is gone. I'd hoped that my grieving was done for 2016." William Shatner tweeted.

    Actress Lisa Rina noted the "unbearable loss of a child" and "Star Trek" star George Takei wrote on Twitter that "Debbie died of a broken heart, but she's with her daughter now."

    "My thoughts and prayers are with the family during this time of unimaginable loss. Two generations in two days," Chaz Bono tweeted.



    Photo Credit: Paul Drinkwater/NBC
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    Debbie Reynolds plays Amanda Cody in an 1989 episode of Debbie Reynolds plays Amanda Cody in an 1989 episode of "Perry Mason: The Case Of The Musical Murder".

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    The Truvada pill is taken daily to prevent HIV and has been touted as a miracle drug responsible for lowering rates of the virus across the United States. But soon, the daily pill may be overshadowed by an even simpler method — a single flu shot-like injection at the doctor's office, once every two months, NBC News reported. 

    The National Institutes of Health announced last week that it was entering the first-ever global clinical trial of an injectable HIV-prevention drug called cabotegravir. The trial is taking place in eight countries across three world regions — the Americas, Africa and Asia — and researchers are enrolling 4,500 gay and bisexual men along with transgender women, pulling from groups with the highest rates of new infections.

    "The annual number of new HIV infections among young people, especially young men who have sex with men and transgender women who have sex with men, has been on the rise despite nearly flat HIV incidence among adults worldwide," said Raphael J. Landovitz, the protocol chair for the study. 



    Photo Credit: Getty Images

    File - Syringe with hypodermic needleFile - Syringe with hypodermic needle

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