STI Awareness Month

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Guest Blog by Taryn Lipiner, Mobile Prevention Team Intern

As the end of the month is quickly approaching, we wanted to take the time to acknowledge that April is dedicated to STI awareness, bringing attention to the importance of preventing, testing for and treating STIs. This month also gives us the opportunity to normalize routine STI testing and to start conversations about sexual health. In the United States, nearly 20 million new STIs occur each year, and given that infection rates continue to rise in our country, it’s critical that you know the facts in order to protect yourself and those around you. Firstly, you can’t tell if an individual has an STI just by looking at them. While some STIs don’t produce any symptoms, others may take up anywhere from a few days to several weeks before they present. Therefore, the only way to know for sure is to get tested.

It’s also important to note that STIs can only be spread through direct sexual contact or by coming into contact with infected body fluids during vaginal, anal or oral sex. Although birth control methods are effective ways to prevent pregnancy, they will not protect you from contracting STIs. So how can you best protect yourself? When used both correctly and consistently, condoms are an effective method to prevent STIs. Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is also a great tool for preventing HIV transmission and is upwards of 95% effective when taken regularly. In addition, it’s important to know your sexual partners, and their STI history is as important as your own. Get tested whenever you or your partner has a new sexual partner. The recommendation is to get tested every 3 to 6 months.

Don’t Forget! The Mobile Prevention Team at Victory Programs has free and confidential STI testing and linkage to treatment every Tuesday from 3-6 pm at 29 Stanhope Street. Although appointments are preferred, they’re not required. In order to book an appointment, please email

We also provide a wide range of community-based prevention education and services, including Transgender Peer Support Services and Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) Support. For more information about these services, please call (617) 927-0836.

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Wyss Foundation – Donor Spotlight

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In December 2013, Victory Programs was thrilled to receive our first unsolicited gift from the Wyss Foundation. The Wyss Foundation’s continued gift of unrestricted funds over the past five years has provided vital support for clients across our 19 health, housing, and prevention programs.

“The work Victory Programs does each and every day helps transform lives and the larger community. This is exactly the kind of work that inspires us here at the Wyss Foundation and we are excited to play a small part in ensuring their work can continue.” – Molly McUsic, President of the Wyss Foundation

For over four decades, Victory Programs has remained committed our founders’ original promise: “All people deserve treatment and care. We take everyone.” Although Victory Programs offers a wide range of services from operating New England’s largest community and resource center for people living with HIV/AIDS, to residential treatment for people in recovery, to family shelters, and even an urban farm, the guiding principle behind everything the organization does is the belief that no matter what the emerging issue is, everyone deserves support, treatment and care to help them overcome crisis.

The Wyss Foundation’s continued commitment is a recognition of the power of Victory Programs’ philosophy of care – individualized, person-driven services that meet people where they are, focus on strengths, and support people in establishing goals as they work to recovery from substance use disorders, homelessness, and/or chronic illnesses like HIV/AIDS. Ongoing funding from generous partners like the Wyss Foundation enables Victory Programs to open the doors to new opportunities and transform lives for nearly 2,500 individuals and families every year. Victory Programs is honored to continue growing our partnership with the Wyss Foundation in the future.

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An Introduction to Human Papillomavirus

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Guest Blog by Holly Banaian, Former Risk Reduction Community Health Worker with Victory Programs’ Mobile Prevention Team

There is a Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) that nearly every sexually active person will be exposed to at some point in their lives, and it’s one without a “cure.” Human papillomavirus (HPV) is an STI with over 150 different strains. It’s spread, most often, through genital to genital contact. Transmission of the infection does not require penetration of any kind, however, HPV is typically spread through anal, vaginal, and sometimes oral sex. HPV can result in genital warts, dysplasia, and cervical cancer. The strains that produce genital warts are not the same strains that produce dysplasia/cancer, so it should be noted that genital warts do not lead to cancer.

While all sexually active people are at risk for HPV, having multiple sexual partners, a weakened immune system, damaged skin or advanced age can increase the risk of infection. Risk factors for developing cervical cancer as a result of HPV include: being rarely or never screened for HPV, HPV persistence, HIV, high-dose steroid use, history of lower genital tract neoplasia (vaginal, vulvar, or anal), infection with chlamydia trachomatis and possibly herpes simplex virus, tobacco smoking, use of oral contraceptives, and more than three full-term pregnancies.

The good news is that cervical cancer and genital warts can be prevented by a vaccine called Gardasil. The most recent iteration of Gardasil called, “Gardasil 9,” has been approved for women up to age 45 and protects against the nine strains of HPV most likely to cause cervical cancer or genital warts. Using condoms and barriers during sex remains a highly effective way of preventing all STI’s, including HPV.

The reason chlamydia and gonorrhea are often cited as the most common STI’s is that there is no single-step test for HPV. Pap smears only detect abnormal cells that may be cancerous or pre-cancerous. If the lab reports abnormal cell changes an HPV test is conducted, subsequently.

Most HPV clears up on it’s own, however, in cases where cervical cancer or genital warts result, the conditions are managed by traditional cancer treatments or anti-tumor topical creams, respectively.

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Journals of Hope, 2019

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The following journal entries came from clients at Women’s Hope, our Transitional Support Services (TSS) recovery program for women. Each was asked to write about her New Year’s Resolution for 2019:

Image: Exercpt from Ashley's JournalMy New Year’s Resolution this year is to start believing in myself.
I’ve never struggled to get 30, 60, or even 90 days clean. I struggle with long-term sobriety and believing I deserve all the blessings I worked hard for. When I begin to start being a part of society, working, getting a place, being a mom… I begin to tell myself I don’t deserve it.
Currently I am five months pregnant. From here I plan to go to Shepherd House’s mother and children’s program. I plan to give birth to a healthy baby girl and I never once want to believe I don’t deserve to be sober and happy. This year I will walk with dignity and pride as a woman who deserves happiness.


Image: Journal Excerpt From DianeFor so many years, I’ve been running away from emotions and feelings, only to experience worse feelings and emotions.
I created my own Hell. The person in the mirror was someone that I didn’t recognize. I just kept shoveling drugs and alcohol into my body to numb myself.
All of a sudden, the substances no longer numbed the pain or the guilt that I feel. There had to be a something more to life. I began to wonder what my purpose is here on Earth. So many people are dying, why is it that I am still alive?
On December 31, 2018, I checked into detox. I felt so alone and empty inside. I couldn’t fathom living life correctly but I definitely couldn’t go on as I was. I made a personal vow that in the New Year I would give my all to build a better life. I am proud to say that I’m drug free, in 2019. It is only the 10th of January, but it’s a clean slate to start with.
I have a lot of work to do with cleaning up the wreckage of my past. It’s a scary thing for someone who has avoided reality for so long. However, I’m very optimistic about what is to come. I’ll accept the consequences because it is time for me to grow-up. Not everything is going to happen the way I want. I’m positive that if I keep doing the next right think, only the best can come from it.


Image: Journal Execrpt ElizabethMy name is Elizabeth and I’m an addict. My New Year’s Resolution this January 1st is to become a healthy, independent, well rounded woman, in recovery.
In order to obtain this goal I’m setting small bench mark goals, for example, entering a half-way house. I will work with my counselor, Community Support Case Management Program (CSP) worker and therapist who will guide me though and help me set attainable goals. That will lead me toward my ultimate goal of being an independent , well rounded woman in recovery.
So far, Victory Programs has helped me so much. I have applied to half-way houses and have begun work with my CSP worker. 2019 is my year and I’d love to say thank you to my higher power and Victory Programs’ Women’s Hope for paving the way.


Image: Journal Entry ErinMy New Year’s Resolution for this year is getting my son back, and caring for him as best as I can and he deserves.
I have a seven month and year old baby boy. In my addiction, I have lost custody of him to the state. However, reunification is now the goal and I am well on my way.
I have been clean for 67 days and having weekly visits with my son. I am working very hard on my recovery and just yesterday I got a bed at a reunification program. I am going next week! So within a couple of months I will be back with my son full time.
The hard work is still ahead. I have to continue working on my recovery, getting my mind and body healthy, and making sure I am in the best space possible to make the transition to being a full time mom!
My resolution is to reunify and be the best mother I can be!


ImageI’m trying to stick to my New Year’s Resolution by remaining grateful and remaining abstinent from all drugs and alcohol. I am grateful to places like Women’s Hope to help me get my life back on track.


Image: Kristine Journal Entry ExcerptI’m Kristine, an alcoholic and an addict. I have been trying to get clean and sober for 20 years. This year HAS to and WILL be different.
For my New Year’s Resolution: I am going to control my temper and listen more – I’m going to finish a program (for the first time ever) and get everything I possibly can out of it, also I am going to do everything I have and need to do so I do not end up back in jail.
The most important resolution I have is to build a new relationship with my 13 year old son. He watched me try and fail in recovery so many times. He loves me no matter what but I want to make him proud. I was ripped out of his life and sent to prison fo`r over a year.
Reality hit me hard. It affected my family more than I could have possibly imagined. I have finally surrendered, I literally fell to my knees and cried more than I ever have before. I have no choice this time and I will do this. I’m far from perfect, and my old behaviors do sneak up on me, but that’s where the program, and meetings, and other women who are serious about their recovery too, help me and guide me back to the right path.
Every day I look forward to continuing my journey in recovery. These are New Year’s Resolutions that I am finally serious about, and I will work my hardest to follow through with. I can’t keep looking back at what I’ve done in the past. I will stay in the present and look forward to the future!


ImMy New Year’s Resolution is to stay free from alcohol and jails. I would like to accomplish my GED to go to college, take up some computer classes, and get a good job.
I also want to have a better relationship with my family and my daughter.
I also want to find a church where I can go to fellowship with others and I would like to have a trainer to stay in shape and a dietician to eat healthy foods and I have a sponsor already. I have to call her two to three times a week and I have a counselor and a therapist so my resolution is a New Beginning.


If you would like to make a gift to Victory Programs to support recovery services and more as part of your resolution please click here

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Announcement: Leadership Changes at Victory Programs

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Dear Friends,

On behalf of the Victory Programs Board of Directors, I am writing to inform you that Jonathan Scott has resigned as president and CEO of Victory Programs, effective December 31, 2018. As many in our community know, Jonathan has been dealing with a serious health condition for more than two years. He has resigned at this time to focus on his health and to ensure he receives the care and benefits he needs to address any health issues moving forward.

Jonathan has been the face and leader of Victory Programs for decades, devoting an impressive 43 years to the organization and its mission. He was the agency’s first volunteer, working at Victory House in 1976 as a Boston College PULSE intern. Jonathan went on to become the fifth Executive Director of Victory House in 1984. He has since grown the agency to 19 health, housing and prevention programs, creating the multi-faceted organization we know today as Victory Programs.

In recognition of his vast contributions to the organization, the Victory Programs Board of Directors will honor Jonathan with the title “Founder and President Emeritus.”

The Board is grateful that Jonathan has offered to stay involved in Victory Programs as a volunteer consultant.

The Board has named Sarah Porter, Victory Programs’ Chief Operating Officer, as interim CEO.

A search for a new president and CEO will commence immediately, as part of a broader strategic planning process designed to ensure Victory Programs continues to provide critical services to more than 2,500 individuals and families each year.

We want to express our deepest gratitude to Jonathan for everything he has done to make Victory Programs what it is today and for the countless lives he has touched in a positive way over more than four decades. He leaves an incredible legacy and a clear mission for all of us to look to as our “North Star”: opening doors to recovery, hope, and community for individuals and families facing homelessness, addiction or other chronic illnesses like HIV/AIDS.

Please join us in wishing Jonathan all the best in his next chapter, and thank you for all that you do to generously support Victory Programs’ mission.


Sara Andrews
Board Chair, Victory Programs

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