A lifelong southerner, Dr. Colomb started life in Louisiana, but it was Mississippi that stole his heart. Early on, education, sociology. and public health were his passions, especially within his community. In the 1980s, those interests all intersected as AIDS and HIV grew to epidemic proportions—especially for African Americans, after generations of avoiding the hard conversations, distrusting doctors, and fearing the stigma. Dr. Colomb knew he had something to give—to help Mississippi and beyond. Opting to stay when he watched classmates, friends, and colleagues get their degrees and leave the region—Dr. Colomb got to work.
Early in his career, Dr. Colomb helped shape state and national HIV/AIDS-policy legislation, particularly on behalf of the African-American community. From there he became the director of the Mississippi Urban Research Center (MURC), where he helped to secure more than nine million dollars in grants used to establish Jackson State University as a leader in HIV- and AIDS-prevention training. At MURC, Dr. Colomb also led the establishment of National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day.
Dr. Colomb would go on to create My Brother’s Keeper—focusing on health in minority communities—as well as the National Black Gay Men’s Advocacy Coalition.
Unfortunately, Dr. Colomb lost his own battle with HIV/AIDS on March 24, 2011. He carried the torch a long way, and fought to the end, but there remains plenty of work to be done.
But Dr. Mark Colomb is still here … because he left behind a legacy—one of service, advocacy, and public health education that others have picked up and carried forward because the fight is never over, if there’s research to be done, breakthroughs to be made, and deserving people not getting the healthcare they need.
It's time to Change the Pattern in the fight to end HIV and AIDS in the Southern United States. Be a part of this new initiative!