ALDERSON, WV (WOAY) – What began in May of this year as an attempt to increase the overall safety of the citizens of Alderson and the surrounding area, was cancelled in June for lack of interest on the part of those the program was expected to serve. Almost no people showed up for the needle exchange so it was not worth the expenses and resources of the agencies which were there to be of help.
This needle exchange was a joint program among several churches, groups, volunteers, the Town of Alderson, Alderson Police Department, Greenbrier County Sheriff’s Department and the Greenbrier County Health Department.
Individuals seeking to exchange needles were not able to just walk in and get needles. The process required a structured approach which involved peer coaching, spiritual counseling, epidemiology, and public health counseling. Further, if individuals needed testing for hepatitis B, C, HIV, and/or syphilis, it was available for them at the time of exchange. Needles were only traded on a “bring in-take out” basis. Clients could not grab a handful and go. If a client brought in two, they got two clean needles in exchange. Other supplies including needle boxes for the return and sterile supplies were included in the process. Counselors would also make arrangements for those who were ready to go to rehab at that time.
Mayor Travis Copenhaver said, “I am well pleased with the groups and individuals who overlooked stigma and stereotypes to come together for the common good to help all. This was one of the most controversial decisions for me to make as mayor. We did our best to make options available for those who needed them. I extend a heart-felt thank you to those who supported this action and understood the need.”