CDC Honors Dr. Beny J. Primm

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October 23, 2015

Passing of Dr. Beny J. Primm

The HIV prevention community has lost a pioneer and one of the nation’s foremost advocates in the field of substance abuse and HIV and AIDS prevention. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recognizes the extraordinary contributions to HIV and substance abuse prevention of Dr. Beny Primm. In the beginning of the epidemic, Dr. Primm was among the early proponents of developing prevention and treatment initiatives for people with substance use disorders and HIV and AIDS. Dr. Primm was not only a pioneer in our field but he dedicated his life towards giving a voice to those in need and influencing policies intended to promote an effective response to HIV and AIDS in the United States. Many remember him as a game changer, innovator, and as a personal mentor.

Dr. Primm maintained a longstanding relationship with CDC for over 20 years. He served on numerous consultations and workgroups, and was constantly part of the dialogue with CDC’s leadership in the development of national programs and polices related to HIV prevention. He was a member of the CDC and Health Resources and Services Administration Advisory Committee on HIV, Viral Hepatitis and STD Prevention and Treatment (CHAC). When he became an appointed advisor to the President’s Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA), he provided CDC with recommendations on research, prevention, and treatment of people living with HIV and AIDS. He also provided his expertise in panel reviews for HIV counseling, testing and referral guidelines. Dr. Primm’s renowned authority in the areas of prevention, education, and treatment of substance abuse and HIV and AIDS not only positioned him as an internationally respected peer, but also gained him the trust of several U.S. presidential administrations, and provided him the opportunity to make long lasting policy impact at a national level.

Dr. Primm was a giant and a powerhouse in terms of advocating for HIV and AIDS prevention for all people, and specifically for, African American communities. In 1998, he was instrumental in actively prompting the Congressional Black Caucus in urging President Clinton to declare HIV and AIDS as a severe and ongoing health care crisis for racial and ethnic minority communities. His dedication and passion led to the creation of the Minority AIDS Initiative (MAI), which at the time resulted in the historic allocation of over $156 million to expand prevention efforts and target funds to the specific needs of racial and ethnic minority communities. Over the years this legacy program has contributed to allocating millions of dollars across the nation to help community-based organizations, research institutions, health care organizations, and state and local health departments address HIV and AIDS within the minority populations they serve.

The CDC community honors Dr. Primm’s legacy, his passionate dedication, exceptional leadership, and extraordinary achievements. He will always be remembered as a remarkable and well-respected colleague who made a tremendous difference for communities in need. His death is an enormous loss to our field but his exemplary body of work will continue to live on for generations to come.

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