Harm Reduction Syringe Services Program

A dozen new hypodermic needles are given to a man who disposed of 12 used needles at a clinic, Friday, Jan. 20, 2012.
Robert F. Bukaty / AP file photo

“They made me feel like I was a person.”

That’s what a 40-year-old man told researchers from Johns Hopkins University about a now-closed syringe services program in the heart of central Appalachia.

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.

West Virginia's Bureau for Public Health has officially suspended the certification of a harm reduction program following concerns over its needle exchange component.

needle exchange sign
Mary Meehan / Ohio Valley ReSource

An audit requested by a West Virginia mayor who said a needle exchange program had caused an increase of dirty needles in public places has recommended the suspension of the program's certification.