Dr. Gary Blick attended medical school with the intention of becoming a plastic surgeon. But, 30 years ago, in 1981, while at the University of Miami Medical School, the first reports of homosexual men contracting and dying from rare pneumonias (Pneumocystis Carinii Pneumonia) and skin cancers (Kaposi’s Sarcoma) were published. This prompted Dr. Blick to make special trips to the Jackson Memorial Hospital medical wards to visit members of Miami’s MSM (Men who have Sex with Men) and Haitian communities who were dying from an unknown viral illness, later named Human Immunodeficiency Virus, or HIV, in 1984. These heart-wrenching medical experiences, which happened to occur at a time when Dr. Blick was questioning his own motivations for becoming a physician, determined the future course for him to become the internationally renowned HIV/AIDS clinician, clinical researcher, lecturer, and humanitarian that he is today
Almost 30 years later, Dr. Blick remains on the cutting edge of HIV/AIDS care, having provided medical treatment to over 3500 individuals with HIV/AIDS. He has been the Principal Investigator in over 110 clinical research trials designed to benefit people with HIV/AIDS and chronic Hepatitis C infection (HCV), and authored or co-authored more than 155 medical manuscripts and scientific presentations regarding therapies and treatments for those with HIV/AIDS. His work has been published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases (JID), Journal of AIDS (JAIDS), AIDS, Clinical Infectious Diseases, Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), Lancet, and many other renown peer-reviewed medical journals.
In 2000, prior to attending the first International AIDS Conference held on the African continent, Dr. Blick traveled to Botswana to witness the impact of the HIV/AIDS crisis in the sub-Saharan Africa region where HIV originated. Overwhelmed emotionally by the extent of the devastation that HIV/AIDS was having on the Batswana, Dr. Blick co-founded the Global HEALTH Organization, Inc. (GHO) in January 2001 to send U.S. HIV/AIDS specialists to sub-Saharan Africa and supply antiretroviral medications (ARV) to those dying from HIV/AIDS. Former Surgeon General, Dr. C. Everett Koop, headed GHO as their Ambassador-at-large and delivered the keynote speech at the United Nations at GHO’s inaugural fundraising event during the 20th anniversary of HIV/AIDS events in July 2001. GHO’s clinic was scheduled to open in Botswana on October 12, 2001, but, following the September 11, 2001 cataclysmic events in the U.S., GHO was forced to suspend planned activities in sub-Saharan Africa and redirect its efforts back to the U.S.
Dr. Blick next traveled to sub-Saharan Africa in July 2009, this time visiting Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe prior to the 7TH International AIDS Society meeting in Cape Town, South Africa. Despite GHO having to suspend their efforts to open the Botswana clinic, Dr. Blick has been shipping ARV to Africa since 2002. An HIV-positive man from Zimbabwe was to be one of the first individuals to receive ARV at the planned clinic. After learning that the GHO clinic would not be opening, he wrote a letter to Dr. Blick acknowledging his HIV status and explaining that his wife was pregnant, but not yet tested for HIV. She tested HIV-positive during her second trimester, but, with no ARV available in Zimbabwe to treat her or her unborn child, their newborn infant boy tragically died from AIDS at 2 weeks of age. Upon learning of the couples’ heartbreak, Dr. Blick began shipping HIV medications to the couple with strict instructions to avoid trying to conceive a child for 6 months. No T cell or viral load testing was available to either individual at the time, and nothing was known about preventing HIV mother-to-child transmission PMTCT) with ARV at the time. After 6 months of ARV treatment, Dr. Blick notified the couple that they could now attempt to conceive a child while continuing on the medicines. When Dr. Blick arrived in Zimbabwe on July 13, 2009, he was greeted by the couple and their son, T. Gary L., who is the healthy, HIV-negative, 11 1/2 year old son of the couple. and godson of Dr. Blick. After hosting and celebrating T. Gary’s 7th birthday on July 15th, Dr. Blick was inspired to co-found the 501(c)3, tax-exempt, non-profit World Health Clinicians, Inc (WHC), the mission being “preventing the spread of HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted infections and reducing the associated morbidity and mortality in the developed and developing world through treatment, patient advocacy and assistance, and education”
WHC’s first project is the BEAT AIDS Project Zimbabwe (BAPZ, Bringing Education, Advocacy, and Treatment for AIDS to Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe), whose mission is “saving the next generation of Zimbabweans” by PMTCT of HIV/AIDS with HIV medications to protect unborn children from acquiring HIV/AIDS, and improving the morbidity and mortality and future of the over 1.2 million orphans and children with HIV/AIDS living in Zimbabwe.
To-date, WHC has been welcomed with open arms by the government and people of Victoria Falls (VF), Zimbabwe, and BAPZ has registered as a Community-Based Organization (CBO) in Zimbabwe, signed a formal Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Ministry of Health (MOH), received the MOH top-tier Non-Governmental Organization designation as a Private Volunteer Organization (PVO), and has been providing medical care and medications to over 2,490 ZIM with HIV/AIDS in VF and surrounding regions. BAPZ is in the process of purchasing their clinic property and building and Outreach vehicle to reach those living out in the Bush surrounding VF. BAPZ recently installed a 5000 gallon water tank at a VF’s orphanage to ensure clean running water for the orphans.
Most recently, Dr. Blick has been instrumental in uniting the lower Fairfield County, CT HIV/AIDS and LGBTQ communities by bringing Mid-Fairfield AIDS Project (MFAP) and Triangle Community Center (TCC) under the same roof as the headquarters for WHC and WHC’s CIRCLE CARE Center and associated 340B pharmacy, a unique model inspired by the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center and designed to enrich and develop the local community. Dr. Blick has been a patient advocate since he began practice and was integral in winning the CT approval of Medical Marijuana, has been fighting for Aid In Dying for the terminally ill since 2010, and is fighting to reduce the stigma associated with HIV testing to reduce the unacceptable high incidence of HIV infection in gay and bi-sexual young adults via a unique photographic and Wellness Event campaign, known as HIV EQUAL.
Dr. Blick continues to lecture locally, nationally, and internationally to physicians, scientists, clinical researchers, healthcare workers, and the public regarding HIV/AIDS care and treatment. He remains active in the local Connecticut community in many capacities, being an advisor to Connecticut’s main HIV/AIDS information resource (the Guardian Health Association), a former 10 year member of the Executive Board of MFAP and the Connecticut AIDS Drug Assistance Plan (CADAP) formulary committee. He remains an advisor, consultant, and speaker for some the world’s most prestigious pharmaceutical companies in the HIV/AIDS field. Dr. Blick is one of the founding members of the American Academy of HIV Medicine (AAHIVM) and is certified as an HIV specialist (AAHIVS). Dr. Blick is also a member of the American Medical Association (AMA), International AIDS Society (IAS), International Association of Physicians for AIDS Care (IAPAC), New England Gay/Bi-sexual Men’s Health Alliance, Connecticut State Medical Society (CSMS), and the Fairfield County Medical Association (FCMA).