NORWALK, Conn. – Help for those afflicted with HIV and AIDS from Fairfield County to Zimbabwe is centered right here in Norwalk.
World Health Clinicians, an international HIV/AIDS prevention organization, opened its new global headquarters on West Avenue last month.
“The reason we wanted to roll this out now is outreach to the community,” Dr. Gary Blick, founder and president of the organization, said at the grand opening. “HIV has not gone away.”
The 11,400-square-foot facility hosts its treatment clinic, the Circle Care Center, which will serve about 1,200 patients per year. It’s also the home of its international wing, which works with the government of Zimbabwe to help stem the spread of the disease in the southern African nation.
World Health Clinicians is the brainchild of Blick, who has been practicing in Fairfield County for more than two decades. Blick became focused on treating HIV and AIDS in medical school, when the first cases of the virus began devastating the communities near his medical school in south Florida.
After coming to work in Connecticut, Blick opened his own clinic in the late 1980s with the help of Lucie McKinney, whose husband, U.S Rep. Stewart McKinney died of AIDS in 1987.
“Dr. Blick refers to Mrs. McKinney as his true guardian angel,” the organization’s website reads.
Today the Circle Care Center provides treatment for HIV, AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections for patients all over Connecticut. The organization also acts as a public advocate for the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community.
“This center is a safe space for all individuals to become who they truly are,” said Rob Marino of the Triangle Community Center at the facility’s opening ceremony in June.
World Health Clinicians also oversees the Beat AIDS Project Zimbabwe (BAPZ), which aims to “usher in an HIV/AIDS-free generation by 2015.” The project’s main focus is on preventing transmission of the virus from mother to child through widespread testing, treatment and prevention.
The group’s overseas work is based in an area called Victoria Falls, which has the highest rate of HIV infection in Zimbabwe. Official statistics report that 20 percent of the adults in the region carry the virus, while Blick estimates that the rate of infection may be even higher.
“The coming of this organization is a big blessing for the community,” Dr. Kurai Ngarivume, a Zimbabwean doctor on the BAPZ executive committee, says in a documentary on the project. “I think it’s actually going to attend to the patient’s needs.”
For more information on World Health Clinicians’ work, visit the organization’s website.
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