Narcan-Resistant Fentanyl Making Its Way Closer to Hudson Valley

March 6th, 2018

This is a bit of old news, but it’s being circulated again in the substance abuse treatment field to make sure users are fully aware of the risks, and so that Narcan carriers know that they may be up against a powerful new drug.

According to Narconon Suncoast:

In Pittsburgh, PA a type of Narcan-resistant Fentanyl has been found in batches of heroin and it’s already causing numerous overdoses and deaths. Apparently, it’s hundreds of times more powerful than morphine and called Acryl-Fentanyl.”

“Acryl-Fentanyl is synthesized, which means it’s artificially created and has no natural origin (remember, heroin’s natural origin is a poppy plant). Not only is it manmade, but it’s being created in China, like most other research chemicals and synthetic drugs and being smuggled into the United States.

DEA Special Agent In-Charge, David Battiste said, “If Acryl-fentanyl is introduced into the population, it can have devastating effects. You would have to reuse Narcan if you are revived from Narcan at all.”

That’s right folks, this stuff is completely resistant to Narcan. Like Special Agent Battiste said, it’s unlikely that Narcan will reverse its effects and, if it does, it will take multiple, multiple doses. We’re already having enough of a problem with the strength of opiates these days. Narcan is struggling to keep up and continue to save the lives of those who overdose. Acryl-Fentanyl is going to make this problem a whole lot worse and this is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the devastating effects this drug is going to have on our society.”

Read the full article here.


LaShonda Cyrus Appointed to Lead Spring Valley Collaborative

February 14th, 2018

LaShonda CyrusLaShonda Cyrus, HVCS’ Senior Program Manager, was appointed to lead the Spring Valley Collaborative. HVCS’ Rockland County office is located in Spring Valley and LaShonda oversees programs there, in Westchester and in Putnam County.The Spring Valley Collaborative is a group of organizations, agencies, service providers that have agreed to work together to address issues that affect the wellbeing of the Spring Valley community and its residents. LaShonda is also chair of the Steering Committee, which develops action plans to enhance coordination among organizations in the Collaborative. Thanks for all you do for our clients, LaShonda, and all those served by members of the Collaborative!

HVCS Creates New STD Testing Position

February 13th, 2018

Get Tested!Hudson Valley Community Services has responded to the sharp increase in STD infection rates in our area by creating a new staff position dedicated to STD testing. For the first time in our history, we will be able to provide free sexually transmitted disease (STD) testing to anyone who needs it.

Previously we were funded only to provide STD testing to those at high risk or those were had a possible exposure.

“We want to empower everyone to take control of their sexual health,” said HVCS’ Education and Prevention Director, Jennifer Brathwaite. “Our new STD tester allows us to serve more people and connect them to the healthcare and social resources they need.”

We offer urine tests for chlamydia and gonorrhea, and a blood draw for syphilis, with results in two to seven days. For hepatitis C (and HIV), we perform a finger stick with results available within 20 minutes.

Two common reasons given for the recent rise in STD rates are the widespread use of dating apps, and the advent of PrEP (daily treatment to prevent HIV). Those on PrEP may decide not to use condoms as frequently. Condoms prevent some STDs but not all.

To find out more or to get tested, call Stephanie at (914) 785-8261.

Drag Brunch 2018: Trixie Strikes Back

February 5th, 2018

Drag Brunch 2018

It’s time once again for delicious brunch food, mimosas, drag performers and Match Game! Liz, Dirk and the staff of Gunk Haus in Clintondale invite you to the 2018 Drag Brunch, a fundraiser for Hudson Valley Community Services. Hostess Trixie Starr is sure to sweeten the deal with the always-fun games and spicy banter. Local superstars including JoJo Gerard, Boxxa Vine and Valkyrie Hail will perform classic favorites and pop hits that will get you grooving to music by Superior Sounds. Plus, don your best gender-bending outfit and vie for the Best Audience Member Outfit prize and enter to win great prizes.

Tickets are $30 each and include choice of brunch entree, coffee, tea and juices–plus a donation to HVCS.

Get your tickets today via Eventbrite or Facebook!

HVCS Dedicates Employee-Managed Fundraisers In Memory of Hector Martinez

January 29th, 2018

The Hector Martinez Memorial FundHVCS lost a member of its family late last year when Hector Martinez, our Lower Hudson PRO Supervisor, passed away unexpectedly. His dedication to his work, his rapport with fellow staff members, his passion, and his trademark sense of humor are irreplaceable and will be greatly missed.

We have decided to honor his commitment to helping our clients at their greatest hour of need by renaming what was called the Employee-Managed Fund (which we set up last year and is overseen by a committee of staff members) to The Hector Martinez Memorial Fund.

Currently the Fund is focused on helping clients who face small financial emergencies not covered by our other assistance programs. Clients, with help from their HVCS worker, can apply to receive VISA or store gift cards to help them overcome challenges, such as affording items for a new baby, school supplies, photos or other forms of identification to help with assistance applications, health-related emergencies (like first aid kits and post-operative care), etc.

The Hector Martinez Memorial Fund will also help clients who are homeless or out on the streets stay warm in winter and cool in summer by distributing seasonal care packs.

Thus far, monies in the Fund have come from employee gifts, but if you would like to make a donation in Hector’s name to support the good work of his Memorial Fund, visit our Donate page.

HMM Fund promotional flyer

HVCS’ Frank Barone Speaks At An Opioid Overdose Forum on January 20, 2018

January 22nd, 2018

Our very own Frank Barone, who works in our Syringe Exchange Program, was among the panelists at an opioid overdose town hall held on Saturday, January 20, 2018 at the Newburgh Armory. The town hall was organized by NYS Assemblyman Frank Skartados and featured several voices from those impacted by the opioid epidemic and calls for compassionate treatment for people who use opioids.

Thanks to Orie Givens from Spectrum News for this press coverage (video).

“Frank Barone from Hudson Valley Community Services survived his addiction and now helps others dealing with opioid use, working with a syringe exchange program.

“You can read a hundred books and you think that you know about addiction, but until you’ve actually been through addiction and have experienced it, you’re never going to truly understand what it’s like to be a heroin addict on the streets,” said Barone.”


ICYMI: Spectrum News featured HVCS in its World AIDS Day coverage

January 19th, 2018

Watch Spectrum News’ video interview with our J. Dewey here.

From the article:

“Ending the HIV epidemic across the state is a collaborative effort, and recent data statewide and in the Hudson Valley indicates that progess is being made.

“The work in order to be responsive as you saw in the data is a complement of our partnerships between city between state between elected officials and our community stakeholders,” said Johanne Morne, director of the New York State Department of Health AIDS Institute.

The department of health held a summit on Wednesday in Albany to connect those involved in combating the epidemic with new information and resources. Morne says that working with communities and identifying needs, as well as understanding social and structural challenges and barriers for different communities, is a major part of their work.

“It’s our responsibility, as I talked about, for us to look for those opportunities not only to provide access to care, but to be sure we create environments that are welcoming and responsive to the people who most need access to prevention and healthcare support,” said Morne.

In the Hudson Valley, providing that access to care falls to many organizations, including Hudson Valley Community Services. In the mid-Hudson region, the trends for new HIV infections are hopeful.

“The news for HIV infections in the Hudson Valley is that the rate of infection is finally going down,” said J. Dewey, public relations & resource enhancement director for Hudson Valley Community Services.”

Thanks to reporter Orie Givens for reaching out to us.



January 16th, 2018

Town Hall on OverdoseNew York State is in crisis. Opioid overdose now takes the lives of more New Yorkers than homicides, traffic accidents and suicides combined. New York State Assemblyman Frank Skartados invites Hudson Valley residents to become a part of the solution and to join together to discuss a compassionate community response to opioid overdose deaths in New York’s 104th District. On Saturday, January 20th from 2-5 p.m. New York State Assemblyman Frank K. Skartados will be holding a town hall and forum panel on opioid overdose at the Newburgh Armory Unity Center 321 S William St, Newburgh, NY 12550.

AM Skartados has partnered with Hudson Valley Community Services (HVCS) and other agencies, including Adelphi University, Cornerstone Family Health, Drug Policy Alliance,  Hudson Valley Community Services, Team Newburgh United Way of the Dutchess-Orange Region, and VOCAL-NY, to join people impacted by opioid use with experts in the fields of science, public health, criminal justice, and drug policy. HVCS’ Frank Barone, a member of our Syringe Exchange Program staff, will take part in a panel discussion.

This event will begin a compassionate and scientifically-informed discussion about drug use, overdose and New Yorkers’ best prospects for saving lives and living well. Information about local services available to people who use drugs and people in recovery will also be provided. Overdose and addiction affect us in a variety of ways.

The following experts and residents will field questions during the forum:

Keynote: Carl Hart, PhD Columbia University and Drug Policy Alliance

  • Hart is a Scientist, Activist, and Educator who is working to drive a compassionate response to people who use drugs and ensure that science informs policy.

Kassandra Frederique, MSW Drug Policy Alliance

  • Frederique is the New York State Director of DPAleadinge their statewide mission to advance those policies and attitudes that best reduce the harms of both drug use and drug prohibition, and to promote the sovereignty of individuals over their minds and bodies.

Judith Branche, MD, CornerStone Family Health

  • Branch is the Medical Director of the Center for Recovery at Cornerstone Family Health Center.

Jeff Kaufmann, Law Enforcement Action Partnership (LEAP)

  • Kaufmann was a police officer with the New York Police Department. While earning a law degree and and working with the NYPD’s Legal Bureau became critical of New York State’s drug policies.

Frank Barone, Hudson Valley Community Services

  • Barone is a Syringe Exchange program prevention specialist and uses harm reduction techniques to engage people who use drugs and to minimize the harm use causes.

Lauren Mandel, RN Newburgh resident and nurse

  • Mandel is a Newburgh resident who has practiced nursing for decades. Her son Zane died after using an opioid in September.

Sgt. Julio Fernandez, Adelphi University School of Social Work

  • Fernandez works to analyze local data on opioid overdoses and hospitalizations to create a data-driven community response at Adelphi’s Hudson Valley Center.

Those interested may register online at:

or share and follow the Facebook Event:

Calendar Information:

What: Town Hall on Opioid Overdose

Where: Newburgh Armory Unity Center, Larkin Center, 321 S. William St., Newburgh NY 12550

When: Saturday, January 20, 2018, 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm

Who: Concerned residents of New York’s 104th District and those affected by and concerned about opioid overdoses

More information: Contact Jawanza Williams,

“Walk It Off” Program Coming This Spring For Our Poughkeepsie Health Home Clients

January 5th, 2018

walking in PoughkeepsieHudson Valley Community Services is pleased to announce a new add-on program for our Health Home clients living in Poughkeepsie. Thanks to a Community Change grant from America Walks, our new “Walk It Off” program will debut in the spring of 2018.

“Walk It Off” will enroll fifty Poughkeepsie residents who are living with obesity and at least one other chronic health condition and receiving care management services. The program will run for six months, with monthly sessions led by a program coordinator and mid-month follow-up meetings with each client’s care manager.

Sessions topics will include how to get started with a walking program, its health benefits, keeping motivated, where to walk, and safety. During each session, participants will identify a walking goal to achieve before the next session. They will receive a “walking map” of the city to help identify walking goals, which may include other support services in their community. If a client is struggling, their care manager will help them find ways to overcome barriers so they stay on track and achieve their walking goal. Clients will benefit from the program by losing weight, improving their cardiovascular health, and improving their self-confidence.

HVCS Joins HIV/AIDS Orgs in Condemning Efforts to Downplay Transgender, Diversity at CDC

December 19th, 2017

Hudson Valley Community Services joins other HIV/AIDS organizations in condemning efforts to ban or otherwise avoid seven key words and phrases at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and in the process, erase the transgender community and diversity.

On Monday, December 18, 2017, five of the nation’s leading organizations focused on ending the HIV and STD epidemics in the United States – AIDS United, NASTAD, the National Coalition of STD Directors, NMAC and The AIDS Institute – expressed alarm over reports that the Trump Administration barred staff at the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) from using certain words in its FY2019 budget justification to Congress. Hudson Valley Community Services stands with them in opposition to this development.

It is now being reported that top officials merely suggested that the CDC avoid using the words as a technique to help secure Republican approval of the 2019 budget. Either way, we cannot do justice to all communities–especially those at the highest risk for HIV–by pandering to those squeamish of diversity.

The five organizations released a joint press release, stating: “While we continue to be in contact with the Administration, CDC, and other agencies regarding these reports, restrictions on these terms, in any manner, demonstrate this Administration’s troubling lack of commitment to science and we are seeking further clarification. Thanks to bipartisan support in Congress and the Executive Branch we have made incredible progress against HIV over the last decade. But budget proposals delineate policy priorities, and in rejecting science and evidence along with other commonly understood health language, this Administration calls into question its commitment to science and the health of all communities, including racial, ethnic, and sexual minorities.

“Discouraging use and reference to “evidence-based” or “science-based,” is concerning enough. However, any attempt to remove “transgender” and “diversity” from CDC vocabulary would represent an outright dereliction of the stated duties of the agency. Such efforts are unacceptable and cannot go unanswered. Transgender people and people of color live under constant threat of systemic and specific discrimination and violence. Erasing them from official CDC documents ensures ongoing discrimination and undermines the ability of CDC to effectively respond to their health needs.

“Evidence suggests the transgender community is particularly vulnerable to HIV and STDs. As citizens and residents of this nation, they should be treated with fairness and respect. As human beings, they are entitled to dignity and affirming care.”

HVCS joins AIDS United, NASTAD, NCSD, NMAC, and The AIDS Institute in their pledge to remain committed to ensuring that diversity is celebrated by our public health system and that its work is rooted in science, not politics. We stand with transgender staff, constituents, clients, and family, and will not relent in our demands that their health and the health of all marginalized and minority communities be prioritized by this Administration and the U.S. government.

Read their press release here.

More info:
AIDS United (AU), NASTAD, the National Coalition of STD Directors (NCSD), NMAC, and The AIDS Institute (TAI) are national non-partisan, non-profit organizations focused on ending HIV in the U.S. They have been working in partnership to identify and share resources to sustain successes and progress we have made in HIV and STD prevention, care and treatment in the United States.