Needle exchange suspended in West Virginia city

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) – A West Virginia health department has suspended its needle exchange program after a police chief issued new rules for the program.

The Charleston Gazette-Mail reports the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department suspended the needle exchange portion of its harm reduction program on Monday, effective immediately.

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

The move comes after Charleston Mayor Danny Jones said too many needles are ending up on playgrounds and streets.

In a letter, Cooper also said the health department must submit monthly reports listing participants, including those who have entered a rehabilitation program and who have tested positive for HIV or hepatitis infections.

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