• Ralph Thurman

Bebashi - Transition to Hope: How the HIV/AIDS Organization Is Serving Its Community

Founded in 1985, Bebashi - Transition to Hope is a Philadelphia full-service HIV/AIDS organization with a focus on helping low-income people of color living with HIV. Bebashi is the second-oldest AIDS service organization in the country and was the first African-American organization in the United States to respond to the AIDS crisis. This organization helps members of the community through hunger relief and nutritional support, health screens, prevention education, and many other programs and services.

How Bebashi Is Helping in Philadelphia’s Fight Against Food Insecurity

The Greater Philadelphia Coalition Against Hunger estimates that 1 out of 4 Philadelphians struggles with food insecurity. While Bebashi may be an AIDS-focused program, the organization is dedicated to assisting low-income Philadelphians with all struggles they may face, including food access. Over the past year, Bebashi has provided nutritious food to approximately 3,500 Philadelphia-area individuals and families.

Bebashi’s FoodFirst Pantry provides fresh vegetables, fruits, meats, and nonperishable food items to local individuals and families who are struggling financially. In addition, the pantry provides ready-to-eat meals to those who are unable to store or prepare food.

The FoodFirst Pantry recently underwent an exciting renovation. The experience now resembles a traditional grocery store, where clients have a selection of items to choose from.

Resource Navigation Program

According to Bebashi, over 183,000 Philadelphians live in deep poverty, which is defined as an income that is less than half of the poverty line. Escaping such dire poverty can seem impossible, but there are resources available to help those living in deep poverty get back on their feet.

Bebashi’s resource navigation program helps these individuals and families find resources that help them meet their basic needs, from transportation to toiletries. This program also offers clients referrals to various support networks and resources, such as job training, health care, employment assistance, and behavioral health services. This support can help clients become more self-sufficient.

In 2021 Bebashi’s resource navigation program helped 197 people meet their basic needs and find resources and support.

Medical Case Management Services

Modern medicine has allowed people diagnosed with HIV to live long and healthy lives, but these individuals need access to medical care. Ongoing primary care and doctor-prescribed treatment plans help people with HIV lead productive lives without being limited by their diagnoses. Bebashi helps low-income HIV patients access the health care they need, follow their prescribed treatments, and find the resources and support systems they need for a healthy and happy life.

Over the past year, Bebashi has provided medical case management services to approximately 690 HIV-positive individuals in the Philadelphia area. Eighty percent of their HIV-positive clients are virally suppressed, while the national average is 58 percent.

Health Screenings

Prevention is key in the fight against HIV/AIDS, and regular health screenings are one of the most effective ways to prevent spread. Bebashi’s health screening program offers free, anonymous testing and counseling for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. The program also offers assistance for reproductive health and hepatitis C.

Bebashi conducts its screenings at its office on Spring Garden Street and several other partner locations in Philadelphia. The organization also has a mobile testing unit through its partnership with the University of Pennsylvania. Moreover, Philadelphia residents can order testing kits delivered to their homes at no cost. In 2021 Bebashi administered 2,412 HIV tests, 2,226 tests for other STIs, and 966 hepatitis C tests.

Bebashi works toward the prevention of HIV and other health problems through its prevention education workshops, which cover a wide range of health issues that disproportionately affect low-income people of color. Topics of focus include HIV/AIDS, other STIs, hepatitis C, and breast cancer.

HIV Support Groups

While an HIV diagnosis may not be as dire as it once was, receiving a diagnosis can still be extremely stressful. HIV-positive individuals often struggle to cope with their diagnoses, but support groups can make it much easier. Bebashi helps Philadelphia’s HIV-positive community cope through several informal support groups that make it easier for HIV-positive people to connect with others, find care, adhere to treatment, and cope with the emotional and physical difficulties of life with HIV.

As part of this support system, Bebashi’s clients have regular medical updates in which they learn about new treatment options, how to deal with side effects, and strategies that will help them become healthier and happier.

The three main support groups and meeting times include:


  • HIV Co-ed - Every 1st and 3rd Tuesday from 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.

  • HIV Women’s - Every 2nd and 4th Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m.

  • LGBT - 1st Wednesday of each month from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.


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