needle exchange

HIV Infection ‘Clusters’ Put Focus on Harm Reduction Programs

Aug 19, 2019
needles
Mary Meehan / Ohio Valley ReSource

Health officials in Huntington, West Virginia, say a cluster of HIV infections has grown to 71 confirmed cases. That’s in a city that usually sees about eight HIV infections in a year. As with an earlier such cluster in northern Kentucky, officials say the primary cause of infection is needle drug use.

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.

Adobe Stock

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 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.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, three workplace deaths in late December 2018 provided a grim end of the year for the coal mining industry. As the Ohio Valley ReSource's Jeff Young reports, 12 people died in the nation’s coal mines even as mining employment dropped to a record low.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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The 10 counties in the United States most at risk for an HIV outbreak are all in Central Appalachia, according to a 2016 report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Compiled after a 2015 outbreak of the disease in southern Indiana, the report found that places with a combination of high poverty, low access to health care, and rampant intravenous drug were mostly likely to experience a similar outbreak of HIV and hepatitis C.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, one of the ripple effects of the opioid epidemic is an increase in blood-borne diseases like hepatitis or HIV. A key method to prevent the spread of such diseases, its needle exchange program, is proving to be controversial in West Virginia’s capital city. The program was eventually suspended. Inside Appalachia host Jessica Lilly recently spoke with the Charleston-Kanawha Health Department’s spokesperson to find out more.

The Associated Press

If you've been paying attention, you know by now that Appalachia is in the middle of an opioid addiction crisis. You may have seen suffering with substance abuse disorders in your own neighborhood.

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.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, Kentucky ranks in the top five highest number of drug overdoses in the country. It also has one of the highest of Hepatitis C, and while HIV/AIDS cases are declining the U.S., Kentucky holds steady with new cases. Much of this can be traced back to people who use IV drugs, using needles or syringes to inject opioids.

Courtesy Office of the Surgeon General

  U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams threw his support behind syringe exchange services as an important tool to address the Ohio Valley’s high risk of needle-borne disease associated with the opioid epidemic.

Mary Meehan / Ohio Valley ReSource

Greg Lee, Kentucky’s HIV/AIDS educator, starts the town hall on a somber note.

“How many people in this room know someone who has died of an overdose death?”

It is a standing-room only crowd. Most hands go up.

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.

syringe, needles
wikimedia commons

A West Virginia police department has tightened rules for a health department's needle exchange program.

Charleston Police Chief Steve Cooper said Monday participants must present a government-issued identification before receiving any needles from the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department. He also ordered only retractable needles to be issued and for participants to undergo blood tests and be offered drug counseling.

Charleston Gazette-Mail

The Kanawha-Charleston Health Department's needle exchange program has reduced disease and helped people with addiction find treatment.

But first responders and Charleston Mayor Danny Jones are upset at the proliferation of needles and people with addiction coming to their city.

needle exchange sign
Mary Meehan / Ohio Valley ReSource

Local outcry has scuttled plans to bring a needle exchange program to a West Virginia town.

News outlets report that Kanawha County Communities That Care spokesman Scott Burton said at a Monday night public meeting in Rand that communities that don't want the harm reduction program won't get it.

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Health officials in the Ohio Valley are investigating outbreaks of disease associated with needle drug use in what is emerging as a new public health threat from the region’s profound opioid addiction crisis. 


needle exchange sign
Mary Meehan / Ohio Valley ReSource

Health officials say more than 8,300 new syringes have been distributed in the nearly two years that a needle exchange program has been operated in a West Virginia city.

syringe, needles
wikimedia commons

A needle exchange program designed to curb the spread of disease and help addicts overcome their substance abuse is seeking funding.

The Bluefield Daily Telegraph reports Community Connection Executive Director Greg Puckett is seeking grant funding for needle exchanges in Mercer County.

needle, syringe
Biggishben / wikimedia Commons

A doctor is spending her own money to establish needle exchange programs in Beckley.

The Register-Herald reports that Dr. Ayne Amjad, along with the help of Beckley Pharmacy owner Ali Sherwani, recently opened syringe exchange programs at the two Beckley Pharmacy locations.

syringe, needles
wikimedia commons

  The city of Huntington says a program that allows drug users to trade in dirty syringes for clean ones is showing signs of success.

The program was established in September at the Cabell-Huntington Health Department and involves elected officials, health professionals, private businesses and members of the recovery community.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On West Virginia Morning, Clark Davis updates us on the needle exchange program in Huntington.  And we’ll preview the new radio documentary about inspiring West Virginians. 

These stories on West Virginia Morning from West Virginia Public Broadcasting – telling West Virginia’s story.

Huntington Shows Need for Needle Exchange

Dec 21, 2015
Cabell Huntington Health Department
Clark Davis / WV Public Broadcasting

As needle exchanges just get going around the state, Huntington’s program has been up and running for three months.

Last week, a college-age woman sat in the reception area at the Cabell-Huntington Health Department waiting to exchange used hypodermic needles for clean ones.  

"I think it’s really great actually, it’s helped a lot of people, it’s helped people stay away from diseases you know what I mean and I just think it’s really great. They offer a lot of things here that help a lot of people, myself included." 

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