Stephen Crohn, a man best known for staying alive during the early days of the AIDS epidemic, died Aug. 23 at age 66. Throughout his lifetime, the New York artist helped researchers uncover vital clues about HIV and how to stop it.
Crohn's partner was one of the first people to die from AIDS in 1978. Over the years, Crohn watched boyfriends and acquaintances die from the disease. But he never got sick.
Knowing that there was something unique about himself, Crohn volunteered to be studied.
Immunologist Bill Paxton was one of the first scientists to work with Crohn at the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center in New York. He figured out that some of Crohn's immune cells, called CD4, literally blocked the virus. "I couldn't infect the CD4 cells," he told The New York Times. "I'd never seen that before."