Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of October 30, 2006
Kairos House featured as CSS kicks off Sign of Hope campaign
Dr. Stan Houston
By BILL GLEN
WCR Staff Writer
In 1987, Catholic Social Services opened Kairos House as a residential hospice for people afflicted with HIV/AIDS at a time when society was just coming to grips with what was regarded as a male homosexual problem.
A leader in AIDS research says that by doing so, CSS helped to change the stigma surrounding the disease.
Dr. Stan Houston, professor of medicine and public health sciences at the U of A, was a guest speaker as CSS launched its Sign of Hope fundraising campaign Oct. 24 at St. Andrew's Centre.
"Kairos House has been a key player and an essential part of the package of services and supports that are available to people with the HIV affliction," Houston told the gathering. "Their role has evolved a lot in the last 20 years."
Houston is the director of the Northern Alberta HIV Program. Efforts like Kairos House and the advancement of medicine and technology have begun to free AIDS patients from a life of discrimination and hopelessness.
When Kairos opened, it was the first hospice for people with HIV/AIDS in Western Canada. It has now served 206 people - where 69 of whom chose to spend their dying days.
Campaign chairperson Wayne Provencal said Sign of Hope's goal is to raise $2 million for some 60,000 people who are served through more than 100 programs.
"Kairos receives nearly two-thirds of its funding from the Sign of Hope campaign and is in need of more resources to meet the increasing demand for its services," said Provencal, financial administrator for the Edmonton Archdiocese.
Provencal said it costs the hospital program $1,000 a day per AIDS patient. It costs Kairos $100 a day for each resident.
Houston said the disease was only recognized in 1981 but has become the biggest killer among all infectious diseases in the world.
The public understands the disease has changed from an exclusively male homosexual issue to one involving heterosexual drug users, people in poverty and new immigrants.
"A big focus of all of us who are working with HIV, including Kairos House, is to try and make it possible for everybody to get the benefits of modern anti-retroviral therapy," Houston said.
Care for HIV/AIDS patients in Northern Alberta requires intense medical, social, psychological and spiritual support and stable residential housing, he said.
"We have relied on the support of Kairos House on many occasions for patients with the most difficult of challenges," Houston said.
"Those who were going through long periods of medical and social chaos, bouncing in and out of hospital, living on the street, are costing our system a ton of money. When they got stable, supportive housing, everything turned around. Their health improved.
"Kairos House played a big role for many of those patients."