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CDC HIV/AIDS/Viral Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update

PENNSYLVANIA: How a Home for People Living with HIV/AIDS in Manheim Township Has Evolved over 20 Years


Hope House in Manheim Township, Lancaster, Pa., is one of two facilities in the state that provides care, counseling, and hope for persons with HIV/AIDS. When the group home opened 20 years ago, neighbors considered it a “death house” and resisted it, arguing that it would house people who would not care about the neighborhood. Now, many neighbors do not even know that it exists. The facility accepts residents from any part of the state, provides drugs to stabilize their health, and strives to get them back to working and living independently. Hope House has assisted 300 individuals throughout the course of 20 years. The staff of seven part-time and two full-time caregivers includes nurses and people with experience in social work, case management, and other skills.

Although the facility is state-funded, residents who have a job pay on a sliding scale for rent and their medication. Staff members expect those who cannot pay to volunteer at the facility. The average stay at the house is approximately one year, but sometimes people return. Of the seven current residents, four had previously lived at Hope House. Besides having HIV/AIDS, some residents have been homeless and may have suffered from drug or alcohol addictions, depression, or other problems. Rachel Weiss, Hope House’s program director, commented that at one time the facility was the last stop for AIDS patients; now the home was more like “a rest stop.” As a result, Weiss said that Hope House was working on reestablishing their presence in the community. She explained, “The disease here is still very prevalent, and there still is a need for Hope House; it's just that [the medical community doesn't] know we're here anymore because it's a managed disease.”

Hope House will hold a 20th anniversary celebration and fundraising event for the public this fall in Lancaster.

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Information in this article was accurate in May 7, 2013. The state of the art may have changed since the publication date. This material is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between you and your doctor. Always discuss treatment options with a doctor who specializes in treating HIV.