OPT-IN for Life HIV/AIDS Specialized Care Services

Program Overview

Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center HIV/AIDS Program has provided expert HIV care since the mid-1980's and has been a funded Part C Early Intervention Services site since 2000 during which time we have seen our active population increase dramatically from 371 to 757 patients through 12/11.  Over the last twelve years of Ryan White funding we improved the care provided at Hershey Medical Center by addressing all aspects of primary care medicine and providing comprehensive case management with the assistance of our partner, Alder Health Services (formerly AIDS Community Alliance).  Our team consists of physicians, a nurse pracitioner, nurse coordinators, case managers, a dietician and substance abuse/prevention counselor.  We utilize the vast resources of Hershey Medical Center to provide all medical and surgical specialty services for our patients.  Second, in order to address the healthcare needs of HIV-infected individuals living far from Hershey, we established sites of care at strategically located sites in the region.  Our specialized care team sees adult patients in Harrisburg (Front Street practice site), Lebanon (Department of Health), Carlisle (Sadler Health Center), Lewistown (PA Dept. of Health) and Altoona (PA Dept. of Health).  We see HIV-infected children at Hershey Medical Center and at sites in Lancaster and Reading.

Ryan White Grant/Health Care Assistance

Our program can assist HIV-infected individuals who are under- or uninsured.  First our case managers are expert in helping our patients identify and apply for all available government health benefits.  For example many HIV-infected individuals can qualify for the Special Pharmaceutical Benefits Program (SPBP) that provides payment for most medications that are needed.  Second for individuals demonstrating a financial need we have a sliding fee scale and yearly cap on out-of-pocket expenses.  In some cases medical expenses for all outpatient HIV-related care can be completely paid for or at least greatly reduced.  In order to qualify for financial assistance under this program, the Ryan White Care Act specifies that individuals must provide certain financial information to one of our case managers within sixty days of our request.  This information includes monthly and annual income from all sources.  (Note:  Individuals are not required to provide this information to receive medical care.  However financial assistance is available only if the requested financial information is provided).  Our case managers are always available to assist and answer questions.  

Appointments can be made for all locations by contacting our office at 717-531-8881 or through Penn State Hershey Careline at 800-243-1455 (ask for the Infectious Diseases Division).

HIV Provider Specialists
    HIV Clinical Care Team
  • Janice Powers, RN, Attending Nurse
  • Laurel Dubble, RN, Attending Nurse
  • Norman Fennimore, CAC, Substance Abuse/Dependence Counselor
  • Taryn Rebuck, Registered Dietician
  • Nancy Morton, Medical Assistant


We provide expert HIV-specialized care at several different locations listed below.  Appointments can be made for all locations by contacting our Hershey Medical Center office at 717-531-8881 or through Penn State Hershey Careline at 800-243-1455 (ask for the Infectious Diseases Division).

Our principal care site at Hershey Medical Center is located in the Penn State Cancer Institute.  We chose this site so that our patients can be folded into the larger population seen at this practice site.  This allows for better anonymity and confidentiality for our patients.


Hershey Medical Center (Providers: Tonya Crook, MD, Cynthia Whitener, MD, & John Zurlo, MD) 
Penn State Cancer Institute
500 University Drive
Hershey, PA 17033

Front Street Practice Site (Provider: Patsi Albright, CRNP)
1711 N. Front Street
Harrisburg, PA 17102

Lebanon State Health Center (Provider:  Tonya Crook, MD)
9th and Cumberland Streets
Lebanon, PA 17042

Sadler Health Center (Provider:  Patsi Albright, CRNP)
100 North Hanover Street
Carlisle, PA 17103

Mount Nittany Health (Providers:  Cynthia Whitener, MD & John Zurlo, MD)
96 Kish Road
Reedsville, PA  17084

Home Nursing Agency (Providers: Patsi Albright, CRNP & John Zurlo, MD)
500 East Chestnut Street
Altoona, PA 16601


Hershey Medical Center (Providers: John Dossett, MD & George McSherry, MD)

500 University Drive
Hershey, PA 17033

Lancaster Women and Babies (Providers: John Dossett, MD & George McSherry, MD)
694 Good Drive
Lancaster, PA 17601

Saint Joseph's Medical Center (Providers: John Dossett, MD & George McSherry, MD)

2494 Bernville Road
Reading, PA 19605





Providing high quality care has been our focus since the beginning of our program.  We have developed a unique clinical information tool, QuickData¬©, that allows to carefully track the quality of care at our program.  Using QuickData we are able to carefully measure and follow 18 quality indicators and 4 outcome measures for our patient population. We believe our most important outcome measure is the percentage of our patients receiving combination antiretroviral therapy whose viral loads are below 400 copies/mL (undetectable).  In 2013 87% of our patients met this criteria meaning that their HIV infection is fully controlled.  For these patients we have every reason to believe that their HIV infection will remain fully controlled indefinitely, as long as they remain on medications.  We want them to lead normal lives.  Our goal is 100%.  Another important outcome measure is the number of AIDS-related complications experienced by our patient population. In our most recent calendar year, we recorded a total of 15 AIDS-related complications. Yet 10 of them developed in patients new to the program, in most cases the event that brought them to their HIV diagnosis. There were only five recorded AIDS-related complications for our entire existing population of nearly 800 patients for the entire 12-month period. We believe this is a strong indicator of our high quality of care.  In summary, not only can we say we provide high quality care, WE CAN PROVE IT! 

 Summary of HIV/AIDS Research at Hershey Medical Center

We have had a long commitment to researching the cutting edge of HIV/AIDS virtually since it burst on the scene in the early 1980s.  Beginning with Dr. Elaine Eyster's pioneering work in understanding HIV in hemophiliacs, our researchers have continued pioneering work focusing on the basic science of the virus itself, treating the virus with new and novel therapies, and understanding the population dynamics of HIV infection.

Current Research

1.  Basic science of retroviral gag proteins and viral integrase.  (Drs. Michael Katzman and Leslie Parent).

2.  Expanded testing strategies to diagnose HIV infection in hard-hit, disadvantaged minority communities in Pennsylvania (Dr. Tonya Crook in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and PA Dept. of Health).

3.  Understanding the unmet needs of HIV-infected patients in Pennsylvania (Dr. John Zurlo in collaboration with the PA Dept. of Health).

4.  Human papilloma virus infection in HIV-infected women (Drs. Ping Du, Neil Christensen, Craig Meyers, and John Zurlo).

5.  Late presentation and lost-to-followup of HIV-infected patients (Drs. Ping Du and John Zurlo).

6.  HIV testing behaviors in the US (Dr. Ping Du, Eugene Lengerich, and John Zurlo)

7.  Routine risk screening and HIV prevention education among HIV-infected patients (Drs. Tonya Crook, Ping Du and John Zurlo).

8.  Syphilis in HIV-infected patients (Drs. Ping Du and John Zurlo).

9.  Tobacco use among HIV-infected patients (Drs. Ping Du and John Zurlo).