HIV & Sexual Health Support
Learning about HIV
HIV stands for
Human Immunodeficiency Virus.
This is the virus that causes AIDS. HIV weakens and destroys the immune system making it harder for the body to fight other diseases and infections.
AIDS stands for
Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome.
It is the last stage of HIV. AIDS is only diagnosed in people who are HIV positive that are not being effectively treated, have a severely weakened immune system (with a CD4 count of less than 200), or who acquire what's called an opportunistic infection, condition, or disease.
HIV transmission occurs when the blood, semen (includes pre-cum), vaginal secretions, and/or breast milk of an HIV-positive person enters the body of an uninfected person. HIV is most commonly spread through:
This includes unprotected vaginal, anal, and oral sex
Using someone else's needle to inject any drug or medication, for tattoos, or piercings. When sharing, try to be the first to use the needle. Always use a new, sterile needle when injecting drugs or medication, or when receiving a new tattoo or piercing
Mother to Child:
This can occur before or during childbirth. Infection can also occur through breastfeeding
Here are a few great websites that we recommend for getting more information about HIV/AIDS:
HIV Information To Go
Bebashi has created a handy, printable HIV/AIDS information guide:
Bebashi Can Help
Our doors are always open; if you have any questions about HIV/AIDS, need a test, or just want someone to talk to, stop by our office.
If you have an immediate question or concern, use our anonymous texting service to get an answer within 24 hours.
For Your Community
We provide culturally sensitive educational workshops for populations most at risk for HIV infection including adolescents, women and men with a history of substance abuse, and men who have sex with other men.
Need Bebashi to sponsor or attend an event at your school, neighborhood, or church? Fill out our simple request form and we'll get back to you.
Learning about STIs
STI stands for
Sexually Transmitted Infection.
These infections are passed from person to person through sexual contact with the penis, vagina, rectum, or mouth. STIs are often referred to as sexually transmitted diseases or venereal disease. Common STIs include syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia, and herpes. Some people with STIs may not have symptoms, but they can still carry the bacterium or virus and require treatment.
Someone in the U.S. is infected with HIV every 9.5 minutes. The only ways to prevent contracting HIV are by abstaining from sex, using clean needles, and avoiding contact with infected blood and bodily fluids. Sexually active people can reduce the risk by taking precautions and using safer sex practices such as:
- Consistently using latex or polyurethane condoms and dental dams with every partner, whether having vaginal, anal, or oral sex.
- Using only water- or silicone-based lubricants. Oil-based lubricants (Vaseline, massage or baby oils) can cause a condom to break.
- Limiting or reducing the number of sexual partners. A mutually monogamous relationship reduces your risk.
Watch Now: How to use a condom
Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP)
Bebashi provides workshops throughout the Philadelphia metropolitan area about Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP). PrEP is a new HIV prevention method in which people who do not have HIV infection take a pill daily to reduce their risk of becoming infected.
- Contains medicines that prevent HIV from making new virus (by blocking the action of a protein that HIV-1 needs to infect the body) as it enters the body, and prevent the establishment of a permanent infection
- Does not cure HIV/AIDS in people who are already infected
This medication is used in combination with safer sex practices to decrease the chance of getting HIV-1 in adults who are at high risk of getting infected with HIV-1 through sex. Safer sex practices include:
- Using condoms
- Knowing your HIV status and that of your partner(s)
- Getting tested for other sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
- Limiting your contact with body fluids
Public Service Announcements: PrEP
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone between 13 and 34 years of age be tested at least once as part of routine health care. Almost one in five people in the United States who have HIV do not know they are infected.
HIV is spread through unprotected sex and drug-injecting behaviors (plus mother to child), so people who engage in these behaviors should get tested more often. If you answer yes to any of the following questions, you should definitely get an HIV test:
- Have you had unprotected sex (sex without a condom) – anal, vaginal, or oral – with men who have sex with men or with multiple partners since your last HIV test?
- Have you injected drugs (including steroids, hormones, or silicone) and shared equipment (or works, such as needles and syringes) with others?
- Have you exchanged sex for drugs or money?
- Have you been diagnosed with or sought treatment for a sexually transmitted infection (STI), such as syphilis?
- Have you been diagnosed with or sought treatment for hepatitis or tuberculosis (TB)?
- Have you had unprotected sex with someone who could answer yes to any of the above questions or someone whose history you don't know?
If you continue having unsafe sex or sharing injection drug equipment, you should get tested at least once a year. Sexually active gay and bisexual men may benefit from more frequent testing (e.g., every 3 to 6 months).
You should also get tested if:
- You have been sexually assaulted
- You are a woman who is pregnant or planning to get pregnant.
Get Tested At Bebashi
We offer anonymous and confidential HIV/Hep C/STI testing and pregnancy screenings. HIV test results are available within 20 minutes.
These services are available at our office, as well as additional locations throughout Philadelphia.
If you need a test, simply stop by our office or call us at (215) 769-3561 for more information.
Bebashi also has an onsite nurse, who is available to provide health screenings, provide referrals, and to help HIV positive consumers access healthcare resources. This service is available every Tuesday from 1:00-4:00pm.
Hepatitis C is a serious viral infection that over time can cause liver damage and even liver cancer. About 3 million adults in the US are infected with the Hepatitis C virus, but most don't know they are infected. Anyone can get Hepatitis C, but adults born from 1945 through 1965 are five times more likely to have Hepatitis C.
Bebashi offers a rapid HepC test that, like the rapid HIV test, can give a result in 20 minutes. The test can tell whether you have ever been infected but cannot tell whether you are still infected. Bebashi can refer you for a follow-up blood test that can determine if you are still infected.
- Hepatitis C is mostly spread through contact with an infected person's blood. It can also be sexually transmitted.
- People who have injected drugs, even if only once in the past, could have been infected with the virus from sharing a needle or drug equipment with someone who had Hepatitis C.
- Most people with Hepatitis C don't have any symptoms. If symptoms do appear, they can be a sign of serious liver damage.
Successful treatment will soon be available that can cure most people of Hepatitis C. The new treatments cannot repair damage to your liver, however, so it is important to find out as soon as possible.
Living with HIV
Bebashi can help with everything from dealing with your diagnosis, to making sure you get enough to eat. All services are free and confidential, and our door is always open – just stop by our office.
Get comprehensive, personal support from our staff social workers. Each carries a Masters or Bachelors degree, complimented by real-world experience. Our social workers can help you cope with your diagnosis, and work with you to develop a comprehensive care plan. If you need it, we can link you to community services including housing, health care, and nutritional services
Just can't do it alone? We provide support groups for people living with HIV/AIDS. Meals and help with transportation are provided at most support meetings.
Support For Women
At Bebashi, we understand that a HIV+ diagnosis can be especially challenging for women and families. Our social workers can help you identify specific needs and develop a personalized care plan. Support for medication adherence, self-esteem, life skills, risk reduction education, and job readiness are all available as part of your comprehensive plan.
The Second Helping Emergency Food Cupboard was established to meet the nutritional needs of low-income individuals and families infected or affected by HIV and living in the Greater Philadelphia area. The non-perishable and perishable items offered through the food cupboard lessen the burden on our HIV-infected consumers, whose diets depend on proper nutrition that is paramount to maintaining optimum health in order to live long-term with the virus.
We offer non-perishable food items and food vouchers to HIV+ people. You can learn more about the Bebashi Emergency Food Cupboard Here.