needle exchange

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The 10 counties in the United States most at risk for an HIV outbreak are all in Central Appalachia, according to a 2016 report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Compiled after a 2015 outbreak of the disease in southern Indiana, the report found that places with a combination of high poverty, low access to health care, and rampant intravenous drug were mostly likely to experience a similar outbreak of HIV and hepatitis C.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, one of the ripple effects of the opioid epidemic is an increase in blood-borne diseases like hepatitis or HIV. A key method to prevent the spread of such diseases, its needle exchange program, is proving to be controversial in West Virginia’s capital city. The program was eventually suspended. Inside Appalachia host Jessica Lilly recently spoke with the Charleston-Kanawha Health Department’s spokesperson to find out more.

The Associated Press

If you've been paying attention, you know by now that Appalachia is in the middle of an opioid addiction crisis. You may have seen suffering with substance abuse disorders in your own neighborhood.

West Virginia's Bureau for Public Health has officially suspended the certification of a harm reduction program following concerns over its needle exchange component.

needle exchange sign
Mary Meehan / Ohio Valley ReSource

An audit requested by a West Virginia mayor who said a needle exchange program had caused an increase of dirty needles in public places has recommended the suspension of the program's certification.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, Kentucky ranks in the top five highest number of drug overdoses in the country. It also has one of the highest of Hepatitis C, and while HIV/AIDS cases are declining the U.S., Kentucky holds steady with new cases. Much of this can be traced back to people who use IV drugs, using needles or syringes to inject opioids.

Courtesy Office of the Surgeon General

  U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams threw his support behind syringe exchange services as an important tool to address the Ohio Valley’s high risk of needle-borne disease associated with the opioid epidemic.

Mary Meehan / Ohio Valley ReSource

Greg Lee, Kentucky’s HIV/AIDS educator, starts the town hall on a somber note.

“How many people in this room know someone who has died of an overdose death?”

It is a standing-room only crowd. Most hands go up.

Mary Meehan / Ohio Valley ReSource

A health department in West Virginia wants an attorney to review new rules that a police chief established for a needle exchange program.

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A West Virginia police department has tightened rules for a health department's needle exchange program.

Charleston Police Chief Steve Cooper said Monday participants must present a government-issued identification before receiving any needles from the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department. He also ordered only retractable needles to be issued and for participants to undergo blood tests and be offered drug counseling.

Charleston Gazette-Mail

The Kanawha-Charleston Health Department's needle exchange program has reduced disease and helped people with addiction find treatment.

But first responders and Charleston Mayor Danny Jones are upset at the proliferation of needles and people with addiction coming to their city.

needle exchange sign
Mary Meehan / Ohio Valley ReSource

Local outcry has scuttled plans to bring a needle exchange program to a West Virginia town.

News outlets report that Kanawha County Communities That Care spokesman Scott Burton said at a Monday night public meeting in Rand that communities that don't want the harm reduction program won't get it.

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Health officials in the Ohio Valley are investigating outbreaks of disease associated with needle drug use in what is emerging as a new public health threat from the region’s profound opioid addiction crisis. 


needle exchange sign
Mary Meehan / Ohio Valley ReSource

Health officials say more than 8,300 new syringes have been distributed in the nearly two years that a needle exchange program has been operated in a West Virginia city.

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A needle exchange program designed to curb the spread of disease and help addicts overcome their substance abuse is seeking funding.

The Bluefield Daily Telegraph reports Community Connection Executive Director Greg Puckett is seeking grant funding for needle exchanges in Mercer County.

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A doctor is spending her own money to establish needle exchange programs in Beckley.

The Register-Herald reports that Dr. Ayne Amjad, along with the help of Beckley Pharmacy owner Ali Sherwani, recently opened syringe exchange programs at the two Beckley Pharmacy locations.

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  The city of Huntington says a program that allows drug users to trade in dirty syringes for clean ones is showing signs of success.

The program was established in September at the Cabell-Huntington Health Department and involves elected officials, health professionals, private businesses and members of the recovery community.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On West Virginia Morning, Clark Davis updates us on the needle exchange program in Huntington.  And we’ll preview the new radio documentary about inspiring West Virginians. 

These stories on West Virginia Morning from West Virginia Public Broadcasting – telling West Virginia’s story.

Huntington Shows Need for Needle Exchange

Dec 21, 2015
Cabell Huntington Health Department
Clark Davis / WV Public Broadcasting

As needle exchanges just get going around the state, Huntington’s program has been up and running for three months.

Last week, a college-age woman sat in the reception area at the Cabell-Huntington Health Department waiting to exchange used hypodermic needles for clean ones.  

"I think it’s really great actually, it’s helped a lot of people, it’s helped people stay away from diseases you know what I mean and I just think it’s really great. They offer a lot of things here that help a lot of people, myself included." 

needle, syringe
Biggishben / wikimedia Commons

Berkeley County health officials are looking at implementing a needle exchange program for intravenous drug users.

The program would be part of a larger harm reduction strategy that health officials want to establish.

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West Virginia's first syringe exchange program has received a $75,000 grant to expand.

The Herald-Dispatch of Huntington reports that the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation awarded the grant Thursday to support education and risk reduction programs for drug-addicted individuals. The syringe exchange program was started in September by the Cabell-Huntington Health Department.

U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin and Charleston Police Chief Brent Walker.
Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of West Virginia Booth Goodwin brought together local first responders, state health officials and substance abuse treatment specialists Tuesday to celebrate the success he sees in his district in combating drug abuse. 

Goodwin said his office intends to continue enforcing federal laws that prohibit the sale of narcotics, but now, he and his colleagues are also focusing on the treatment side, looking at ways to curb the demand for the drugs. 

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Charleston City Council has taken a step toward establishing a needle exchange program.

Council members approved an ordinance on Monday decriminalizing possession of hypodermic syringes and needles. The ordinance also allows distribution of needles and syringes that are part of a needle exchange program, so long as such a program is approved or sponsored by the city's police chief.

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The Wheeling-Ohio County Board of Health has voted unanimously to establish a county-operated needle exchange program.

Wheeling-Ohio County Health Department Director Howard Gamble tells local media that the program, conducted in partnership with Northwood Health System, could open as early as Friday, thanks to the Tuesday vote.