Some syringe service programs may see a rough road ahead as new requirements come out

PRINCETON, WV (WOAY) – The recent changes to needle exchange programs may make it more difficult for health centers to provide support for those suffering from substance use.

The changes require an exchange program to obtain a license for syringe collection, and health centers will need to provide a multitude of new services for recovering addicts.

In Mercer County, Community Connections and their partners may be affected, and Executive Director Greg Puckett says it may be a challenge to overcome.

“Unfortunately now we’ve gotta work harder because of certain legislation that passed this year,” Puckett said. “We will overcome it, we will work with community health centers to do it, but it is gonna be more difficult.”

The CDC claims needle exchange programs have been proven to reduce the spread of certain diseases like HIV. And Mercer County is one of roughly 200 counties to currently be at risk for an HIV outbreak.

“We know that we are one of 220 counties nationally that are at the potential for an outbreak of HIV, and yet we are making it more difficult to obtain a service that will keep that communicable disease lower.”

Critics of the changes say they may eventually cause some needle exchange programs to close down entirely, after being unable to keep up with the new requirements. 

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