Addressing the plight of the South African AIDS pandemic

  1. As early as 23 May 1994, they started an HIV/AIDS awareness programme.
    They educate the public - e.g. in factories, youth groups, parish events, but also through the media of film, radio and internet - about AIDS and how to live positively despite HIV infection.
  2. On 3 September 1996, the Brotherhood opened a newly built hospice, which is still the largest hospice in South Africa.
    It is the aim of Blessed Gérard's Hospice, Mandeni to bridge the care gap between the hospital and the patient's home. Because of their small number and the lack of beds, hospitals in this country often have no choice but to discharge patients (too) early, i.e. before they can care for themselves or have recovered.
    The families are often unable to care for their sick relatives because they lack self-confidence, training or the nursing skills to take care of their recovering relatives.
    The second target group of the hospice are patients who are not taken in hospital because, for example, they have an unfavourable prognosis (cancer/AIDS), but who also cannot be adequately cared for at home.

    The hospice has a fourfold task:
    1. To train the public in Home Health Care so that they can properly care for their own loved ones at home.
      Care assistant courses give active members of the fraternity the knowledge and skills to work as volunteers in the hospice.
      They also teach family carers how best to care for their family member during home visits.
    2. An essential task of the hospice is home care, to complement the home care provided by the family and to support them with advice and assistance through training and further help.
    3. As a further activity, they run a day care centre for sick people, so that family members who have a job do not have to give it up to be available for the care of their relative, but can bring their patient to the hospice before work and take him home again after work. The patient will then also participate in occupational therapy or leisure activities at the care centre and hospice, depending on their condition, so that they do not feel bored or useless.
    4. Finally, the hospice also admits and cares for sick people on an inpatient basis if the patient's care cannot be adequately provided by the training of his family members or their support by the Mobile Home Care Teams, nor by admission to the Day Care Centre. Inpatient admission still leaves open the possibility of training family members on their own relative in the hospice.
  3. On 9 July 2000, the Brotherhood then established a children's home to provide a home for abandoned, neglected, malnourished, abused, sick, disabled or orphaned children who would otherwise have no future. Many of them are HIV-positive themselves and some are already in the AIDS phase. Others have lost one or both parents to AIDS and if there is really no one in the family to take the child in and no foster parents can be found, the children's home is happy to take them in and offer them all the love and care they would otherwise have to do without.
  4. Since September 2003, a completely new, extensive and comprehensive task has come upon the hospice because it was asked by the South African Bishops' Conference to participate in a nationwide programme for the antiretroviral treatment of AIDS patients. The hospice had a kind of pioneering role because it was the third institution of the Catholic Church ever to be entrusted with this enormously responsible and challenging task.
    This was the beginning of the Blessed Gérard Hospice HAART Programme.

This was the beginning of the Blessed Gérard Hospice HAART Programme.

The hospice offers free Highly Active Anti-Retroviral Therapy (HAART) to indigent AIDS patients.
as one of the very few non-governmental but government-approved (free) AIDS treatment centres in South Africa
in the name and on behalf of the South African Bishops' Conference
with the support of the US government (President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief - PEPFAR)
through Catholic Relief Services.
The HAART management team consists of a doctor, a chaplain, a project manager and a nurse, all of whom have received specialised training in AIDS treatment.
The HAART programme has employed 16 nurses full-time and trained them as treatment counsellors and educators to provide patient information on HAART.
The hospice holds HAART preparation classes on an ongoing basis, attended by Stanger's own patients and patients of the county hospital.
The hospice now treats over 100 patients with antiretroviral medicine and is constantly adding new patients.
The hospice regularly makes home visits to all patients to make sure they are really taking and tolerating the medication.