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CDC HIV/AIDS/Viral Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update
People Stay There to Learn to Live with HIV
Mary Anne Janco
October 17, 2003
Philadelphia Inquirer (10.12.03) - Friday, October 17, 2003

The Ralph Moses House, which opened in October 2000 in Chester, Pa., can accommodate up to 12 homeless HIV-positive men. Ralph Moses, who advocated for seven years to get the house built, is a former drug and alcohol addict who was diagnosed with HIV in 1989.

In 1992, after a failed suicide attempt, Moses decided to battle his addictions and help other people with HIV/AIDS. Having once stayed in a transitional Philadelphia housing program for drug and alcohol addicts, Moses envisioned the same kind of program for people with HIV/AIDS in Chester, part of Delaware County.

"I thought, 'How come we can't do it here? Just because we have the virus, we don't have to lay down and die,'" he said.

Moses approached Family and Community Service of Delaware County, whose officials agreed to help start a program to train people to live with HIV, according to Alan Edelstein, FCS executive director. "He had that vision. He was very persistent, very upbeat and positive. He was an inspirational person to all of us," Edelstein said of Moses.

The house's mission is to teach HIV patients to get treatment and learn basic life skills to be self-sufficient. The house, one of the first of its kind in the region, has a computer lab and exercise room.

Since 1980, 1,162 AIDS cases have been documented in Delaware County, according to state health statistics, giving it the third-highest AIDS incidence in the state. Using the slogan, "Respect yourself, protect yourself," Moses has handed out condoms and literature, spoken to high school and college students, and reached out to addicts in shooting galleries. In addition to other outreach work, he drives patients to medical services.

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