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Advocacy For AIDS Patients is His Life’s Passion

When you meet John Schoepp he radiates health, passion and a can-do spirit. For the last 15 years he has volunteered many hours each week to help New Yorkers learn the importance of getting tested for HIV. He surveys other patients and gives feedback to the NYC Health + Hospitals system health center where he gets care.

John is feeling great these days. But, in 1996, he was constantly sick with colds and viruses. His doctor suggested an HIV test and the diagnosis was positive. Thanks to his optimistic attitude and the timely care he received at Elmhurst Hospital Center, one of NYC Health + Hospitals’ 11 Designated AIDS Centers, John is living a full life and has made advocacy for AIDS patients his life’s passion.

“I think the most important thing that people need to understand is that you can’t end AIDS unless you can convince people to get tested. As long as one person has the disease and is not tested then the chain is not broken. Testing is the key to ending this epidemic,” said John.

Once a person has tested positive for HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, John sees linkages to care as the most important way to stop the spread of the disease. He works tirelessly, traveling to meetings throughout New York City to learn the latest about how to create clinical programs that have high retention rates and brings that learning back to the NYC Health + Hospitals team of doctors, nurses and social workers who have helped him. He has also attended training sessions in Albany and Washington, D.C.

“Now I represent all the patients at my clinic. Every patient deserves respect and sometimes there needs to be one person who is listening to both sides and communicating patient concerns,” said John. “I always find the clinic staff very responsive to patient concerns,” he added.

NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst and all other NYC Health + Hospitals health care system hospitals and health centers offer rapid and confidential HIV testing as part of routine medical care for patients 13 to 64 years old, and quickly connect patients to treatment to help New Yorkers who test negative stay negative and help those who test positive to access the medical care they need to live a full life with HIV.