Adams studied history at Sussex University and London University. While attending Sussex University, he attended lectures by Paul Feyerabend on the philosophy of science. These lectures would later have a strong influence on his understanding of the controversy over AIDS causation.
After his first degree, Adams trained as a journalist and worked in newspapers in London and then in television. It was while working for the BBC's flagship current affairs programme Panorama that he was recruited by Joan Shenton to join her at Meditel Productions to work on a series of six programmes about the international pharmaceutical industry and damage to patients caused by prescription drugs.
Adams continued to work with Shenton and produced and directed several series of programmes at Meditel over the next few years. Meditel was not content to interpret what the health industry says for the public, and it was during this time that Adams became familiar with the failure of the virus-cancer programme and the political aspects of the field of retrovirology.
In early 1986, during the process of doing research on a story of contaminated blood in AIDS, Adams discovered that there were a number of scientists who questioned the HIV/AIDS hypothesis. Michael Verney-Elliott approached Meditel and introduced Adams to the New York Native and the ideas of Joseph Sonnabend. Later the next year, he learned of Peter Duesberg's groundbreaking article in Cancer Research.  Immediately sensing a newsworthy story, Adams and Verney-Elliott wrote a proposal for a television documentary, and the result was AIDS: The Unheard Voices, produced and directed by Adams. This documentary put forward the voices of those who felt that "HIV = AIDS" was too simple an equation, that the fast-growing "AIDS establishment" had rushed into identifying an agent as the cause without adequate examination, and that other potential causes for AIDS should continue to be examined.
The Unheard Voices was a successful programme, winning the Royal Television Society award for the best current affairs documentary of 1987. Realising that he had sufficient material for a book, Adams undertook further research and wrote AIDS: The HIV Myth, which was published in the UK by Macmillan and in the US by St. Martin's Press in 1989.
A Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, Adams has since written biographies of Emmeline Pankhurst, Ernest Dowson, and Tony Benn. With Philip Whitehead, he wrote The Dynasty, a history of the Nehru-Gandhi Family, which was subsequently made into a BBC television series. He has also written for a wide variety of magazines and journals, including the The Times, The Independent, The Guardian, The Lancet, and The British Medical Journal. In 2006, he was a Visiting Fellow at the School of Advanced Study at London University. He lives in London and on the Greek island of Leros with fellow historian Julie Peakman.
- "Part of the reason why a newly discovered virus like HIV could be misidentified as the cause of a complex syndrome like AIDS is that all the fields of research involved in the AIDS story are themselves complex, and no individual scientist has an adequate command of all of them, each having to rely on the insights and choices made by specialists in other fields in order to corroborate from other disciplines the insights of one particular speciality. Thus the epidemiologist, who studies epidemics, is obliged to believe in the choices made by the virologist, who studies viruses, and vice versa; neither will have sufficient command of the other's discipline to be capable of judgement, particularly when the other discipline is straining past the point of knowledge and into speculation, as has so often been the case in the AIDS story." — "Beginnings", AIDS: The HIV Myth
- "To believe that science is in some peculiar way 'rational' or above the petty concerns which bedevil the human race is as absurd as believing that journalists are purveyors of the truth or lawyers vendors of justice. Of course, there is some validity in these statements: some truth is forthcoming and some justice available from journalistic and legal enterprises. But this is hardly the whole story. A young person does not have to be very advanced into adolescence before realising that there are other factors acting on professionals besides the abstract notions of truth or justice of which the average lawyer or journalist might not think from one week to the next. Remuneration, position in a hierarchy, the pressure to get results, obeisance to traditional values, skill and personal beliefs are all factors in professional life and scientists have no immunity." — "Endgame", AIDS: The HIV Myth
- Foreword by Peter Duesberg
- Virus Hunters (excerpt)
- ↑ The paper was entitled "Retroviruses as Carcinogens and Pathogens: Expectations and Reality", and it questioned the foundations of both the virus-cancer and virus-AIDS programmes. (Duesberg 1987)
- ↑ Duesberg, Peter H., 1987. "[as Carcinogens and Pathogens: Expectations and Reality]" PubMed", Cancer Research, 1 March 1987, 47:1199-1220.
- Brown, Darin, Personal communication with Jad Adams, May 2006.