Harm Reduction

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The opioid crisis is one of the biggest public health challenges in our region today. One strategy that’s been proved to help curb the epidemic’s worst effects is to implement harm reduction programs, which include a variety of services. One of the most controversial is a component called needle exchange. 


West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On last night’s episode of The Legislature Today, senior reporter Dave Mistich spoke with Senate Finance Chairman Craig Blair and House Minority Finance Chairman Mick Bates about the current fiscal situation in West Virginia -- including a look at possibilities for the nearly $186 million-dollar surplus announced in December’s revenue report. We hear an exerpt from the interview on this West Virginia Morning.

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Fighting the drug epidemic continues to be a top priority for lawmakers and public health officials in West Virginia. Yesterday, West Virginia School of Public Health hosted a panel on harm reduction – focusing on medical, law enforcement and community strategies around syringe exchange programs.

 

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The 2019 West Virginia Legislative session is now in full swing, and West Virginia Public Broadcasting is bringing you in-depth coverage every weekday night on our program “The Legislature Today.” In last night’s episode, host Suzanne Higgins spoke with House Minority Leader Tim Miley and Senate Minority Leader Roman Prezioso about Gov. Jim Justice’s third State of the State Address.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, needle exchanges are a proven way to help slow the spread of HIV and hepatitis C. They also help connect people with substance abuse disorder to recovery and treatment.

Despite approval by Virginia lawmakers, there are only three exchanges operating in that state. One roadblock is getting permission from local law enforcement.

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When the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department closed its harm reduction programs, one of the biggest criticisms of the program was that it led to an increase in crime, vagrancy and homelessness. Those claims are not without merit.

 

 


West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, one of the biggest battles in drug treatment and recovery is overcoming stigma. For our final segment in a series on the failed Charleston needle exchange, we take a look at how its closure has affected the community's perception of harm reduction policy. Kara Lofton reports that things like harm reduction, safety and crime have become as much about politics as public health.

Ashton Marra

Current best practices for harm reduction programs include a couple provisions: No retractable needles should be distributed, patients should get as many needles as possible regardless of how many they bring back, and barriers to accessing needles should be as low as possible. But sometimes those recommendations are at odds with community acceptance for the practices.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, current best practices for harm reduction programs include a couple provisions: no retractable needles should be distributed, patients should get as many needles as possible regardless of how many they bring back, and barriers to accessing needles should be as low as possible. But what happens when those recommendations are at odds with community acceptance for the practices? Kara Lofton reports.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, we continue our new series exploring the impact of Charleston’s now-closed harm reduction program. We hear from two programs in the state that discuss what that closure has done for their own reputation.

Todd Huffman via Flickr [CC BY 2.0]

Best practices for harm reduction programs call for flooding a community with clean hypodermic syringes. Research shows that in addition to reducing the prevalence of blood-borne pathogens in the community, well-run programs help remove potentially infectious syringes from the community. But some people say that wasn’t happening in Charleston.


West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, we continue a series exploring best practices for harm reduction programs in the state.

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In December  2015, with support from the city of Charleston, the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department launched a harm-reduction program that included a needle exchange. The primary goal was to reduce the risk of diseases commonly spread by sharing needles.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, one of the byproducts of the opioid crisis is an abundance of needle litter. In a new series, we explore why the state's largest harm reduction program shut down and how perception, stigma and politics around that closure is impacting other programs around the state.

Molly Born/ WVPB

In parts of Appalachia, needle exchange programs have brought controversy, and they sometimes carry a stigma that such offerings enable, or even encourage, drug use. But supporters say the practice, especially when coupled with addiction treatment options for participants, can help get them on a path to recovery.

Molly Born / WVPB

On a warm Friday afternoon in July, Fred Cox and his team set up shop on a gravel shoulder off the side of the road, where you might see someone selling summer vegetables. With its white tent, a table, some folding chairs, and brown paper bags piled in crates, the Wyoming County health department's mobile harm reduction unit was open for business for the next half-hour. Its signature offering: a traveling needle exchange offering clean needles to intravenous drug users.

Angie Gray, Nurse Director for the Berkeley-Morgan County Health Department, shows a box of sealed, sterile syringes given to participants in her harm reduction program.
Liz McCormick / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Across West Virginia, people are fighting back against the opioid epidemic and pushing the message of recovery. Some of these people run harm reduction clinics – which sometimes include needle exchanges. We meet a nurse in the Eastern Panhandle who runs one of these programs.

Mary Meehan / Ohio Valley ReSource

A health department in West Virginia wants an attorney to review new rules that a police chief established for a needle exchange program.