An Untold History in the Fight Against AIDS

Listen 49:36

In the fall of 2019, reporter Grant Hill jumped into a cab  — where his driver, Clyde Ashley Sherman, told him the story of a lifetime. Decades before, the driver had worked for a Black physician from Oklahoma named Gary Davis. In the 1990s, Davis developed a treatment for AIDS based on goat antibodies. The physician submitted his research to the FDA, but his clinical trial was shut down right before it was set to start. Frustrated, Davis went abroad to get his treatment off the ground. He got involved with some questionable characters to find financial support — and when he died unexpectedly, lots of questions remained.

Grant Hill spent more than two years on Davis’ trail — discovering a tangled story that spans decades and stretches into the innermost circles of power and fame. On this episode, we’ll hear an excerpt from our new podcast series “Serum,” which tells Davis’ story. We also talk to an infectious disease specialist who has worked on HIV research since the early days of this epidemic, and we’ll meet a couple that found love amid the AIDS crisis.

Also heard on this week’s episode:

  • Reporter Jad Sleiman tells the story of a couple whose meandering path to love started at the height of the AIDS crisis. At first, the specter of HIV pushed them to take very different roads in life — until they met again.
  • We talk with Carlos del Rio, co-director of the Center for AIDS Research at Emory University, about the earliest days of HIV research, and how the search for treatments has unfolded in the years since.

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