Syringe Exchanges Closing across Ohio Valley


On this West Virginia Morning, Health officials in Huntington, say a cluster of HIV infections has grown to 71 confirmed cases. That’s in a city that usually sees about eight HIV infections in a year. As with an earlier such cluster in northern Kentucky, the primary cause of infection is needle drug use.

Health officials say harm reduction programs are an effective tool against HIV, offering needle exchanges and health screening services. 

But as the Ohio Valley ReSource’s Mary Meehan explains, many people are wary of syringe exchanges. And in some places, that means programs are closing just when they’re most needed.

Ella Jennings, a Northern Panhandle native, created a podcast called “What Happened to Weirton” to fulfill a master’s in journalism from West Virginia University. The last episode looks at the current economic landscape of the old mill town, especially the developing petrochemical industry. She reports how many businessmen and politicians in the Ohio Valley are working hard to revitalize the economy — focusing primarily on those sectors. Not everyone is bought into that plan, though. We hear a segment from the episode titled Moving Forward.

West Virginia Morning is a production of West Virginia Public Broadcasting, which is solely responsible for its content.

Support for our news bureaus comes from West Virginia University, Concord University, and Shepherd University. Our Appalachia Health News project is made possible with support from CAMC and Marshall Health.