The National Medical Association mourns the loss of Dr. Beny J. Primm who died last week at the age of 87.
A leader in the fields of substance abuse and HIV, Dr. Primm was born in Williamson, West Virginia, on May 28, 1928. From an early age, he had a desire to be a doctor. He attended Lincoln University for two years, and later graduated from West Virginia State University.
After many dedicated years in military service, Dr. Primm decided to apply to the University of Heidelberg, Germany, receiving his acceptance in 1953.
After a year at Heidelberg, he transferred to University of Geneva, Switzerland, obtaining his M.D. in 1959.
In 1969, Dr. Primm helped to found the Addiction Research Treatment Corporation (ARTC), now known as START Treatment & Recovery Centers (START). Here, he proudly served as the first executive director to the country’s largest minority, non-profit community-based agency, providing substance abuse treatment, primary medical care and HIV/AIDS services to adults and mental health services to adolescents. START’s 124th street location in Harlem, New York, The Beny J. Primm Center for Healthy Living, houses three separate addiction treatment programs and is proudly named in honor of his diligent work for this agency.
In addition to his work for ARTC, Dr. Primm served as president of the Urban Resource Institute, an organization that supports community-based initiatives and social service programs for battered women, the developmentally disabled, and substance abusers.
Likewise, he was an adviser to the National Drug Abuse Policy Office since the Nixon administration. Dr. Primm was the first director of the Center for Treatment Improvement, the predecessor to the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment, within the executive branch of the federal government.
Dr. Primm was internationally recognized as one of the world’s foremost experts on HIV/AIDS. He has served on the Presidential Commission on the Human Immunodeficiency Virus Epidemic, and has represented the U.S. at numerous international conferences.