West Virginia county considers needle exchange program

BECKLEY, W.Va. (AP) — A West Virginia county is exploring a needle exchange program amid a spike in cases of hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV.

Media Outlet reports that the Beckley-Raleigh County Health Department board is considering adding a needle exchange as part of a number of harm reduction initiatives.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently ranked West Virginia first in the nation for new cases of hepatitis B. The health department’s acting director, Candace Hurd, says a rise in the number of HIV cases in recent years requires proactivity in regard to IV drug use.

Hurd says the possible needle exchange and other initiatives, including opioid substitution therapies and outreach, won’t function as a cure alone.

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