Our Story

Bearing Witness; Taking Action

At a Convention of the Medical Committee for Human Rights held in Chicago in March 1966, Martin Luther King Jr declared: “Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane.”

The inspiration for COPE arose out of witnessing the inequalities to viral hepatitis testing, care, and treatment in New York City that left people of color, the poor, the homeless, the mentally ill, and people with substance use disorder behind. The injustice called us to take action.

Nothing is more essential to the quality of life we experience than access to health information and care. For many, this can be a challenge. Particularly for those at risk for or living with HCV, HIV, and other chronic illnesses.

The truth is that we have a healthcare system that is not inclusive to all. Gaps in care are most likely to leave behind those who have been undervalued, disenfranchised, and oppressed due to their race, gender, sexual orientation, age, education, income level, mental health, and substance disorders. This has created a class of people who have unequal access to health information and care, and therefore lack power in their own health and well-being.

Reaching those our society deems as unreachable and facilitating their access to health care is COPE’s passion.

Our mission is to bridge the gaps in chronic healthcare management for people not getting the care and prevention services they need. We advocate for greater health and social justice at every level – working with individuals in need of information, skills building, and support, joining with community partners to create effective systems of care, and taking our seat at the table to shape policies that impact chronic disease prevention and care.

By fostering community, equity, and individual and community empowerment, we are working to achieve greater well-being for all.

Today, COPE provides services throughout the five boroughs of NYC and the wider metropolitan area, as well as advocacy and capacity building with non-profits across New York State and the US.

A Better Patient Care Model

COPE, the Coalition on Positive Health Empowerment, was founded in 2010. We are a coalition of community peers, medical, and non-medical support providers who have come together to improve the patient-care model.

COPE was initially established to provide care and support for people that are Hepatitis C positive, but we have since expanded towards improving the health and well-being of people left out of the care system.

Today we provide patient education, support, and advocacy for people living with HCV, HIV, and other co-occurring chronic conditions, including diabetes, hypertension, frailty, cancer, depression, and anxiety.

No matter the health challenge, with COPE’s model of fostering patient knowledge, health literacy, self-agency, and trust in medical care and support systems, no one has to be left behind.