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LANSING — Dr. Peter Gulick was extremely uncomfortable as the Lansing City Council unanimously approved a resolution Monday night declaring Dec. 1 "Dr. Peter G. Gulick Appreciation Day" in the city. While he has toiled on the front lines against HIV since it was first reported, the public accolades for his commitments remain difficult to hear.
Randy Hannan, chief of staff to Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero, noted that Gulick preferred to stay behind the scenes.
"But that’s not what we do here," he said. "We want to highlight people who are doing things to improve this community."
And no one can argue that Gulick has not had a significant impact on the Lansing community throughout the last 30 years. But his fight against the HIV epidemic was not his first choice.
Gulick was not looking at a career in infectious disease in the very early 80s. He wanted to be a medical oncologist.
He even put in a year at a hospital in Buffalo working on cancer, but family issues brought him home to Cleveland. Because he was late in applying, he was unable to get into oncology at the preeminent Cleveland Clinic, but he did get a fellowship in infectious disease.
"I just kind of did infectious disease, and I fell into treating HIV," he says. "That wasn’t something — obviously — I planned, because it wasn’t even a recognized disease yet."
In fact, Gulick now has the largest patient caseload in Michigan. He serves over 800 people living with HIV at three separate clinics in the state. One, located in Lansing; a second in Saginaw. His third is located in tiny Harrison, the county seat for Clare County and a town of just over 2,000 people. The Harrison Clinic is the only rural HIV clinic in Michigan. Getting there has been a journey for Gulick — both scientific and personally.
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