Our community remembers Dr. John L. Peterson, a psychology researcher and professor emeritus at Georgia State University, who passed away earlier this month.
He was a leader in the fight against HIV/AIDS, especially in the health equity front with same-gender-loving/gay/bi Black men. His research interests focused on predictors of AIDS risk reduction and the determinants of health disparities, as well as on factors that influence engagement in the continuum of HIV care. His studies also examined the sociocultural and psychological factors associated with high-risk sexual behavior, the effects of behavioral interventions to reduce this risk behavior, and social determinants of racial disparity in HIV infection and engagement in care, among men who have sex with men (MSM).
Dr. Peterson was a pioneering researcher in HIV health inequities and disparities between Black and Brown men. Since publishing a groundbreaking journal article sounding the alarm that “ethnic minority men, particularly Blacks and Hispanics, make up a significant proportion of all AIDS cases in the United States" in 1988, Peterson authored more than 45 studies that aimed to characterize and correct those inequities.
Perhaps most importantly, though, Peterson guided and helped shape the careers of some of the HIV field’s most important Black researchers and clinicians. He mentored Gregorio Millett, MPH, a former epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and architect of the Obama-era HIV/AIDS Strategy who is now director of public policy at amfAR, the Foundation for AIDS Research. Peterson also mentored David Malebranche and served as a coauthor on a study of how Black same-gender-loving men perceive medical culture and homophobia. Malebranche later went on to give a powerful plenary at AIDS 2018 on the ways in which the health care system fails Black gay men.
His legacy will be remembered by many, and his impact is cemented within HIV/AIDS research and activist communities as a change agent for progress, justice, and equity.
To learn more about Dr. Peterson's impact, read the full article by clicking here.
Shelby Birch, Digital Communications Assistant for the DEI Website