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Needle and needle replacement program ends in Mercer County, West Virginia | WV News

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Princeton, West Virginia — Mercer County Health Department has completed a needle exchange program.

During a meeting of the Health Commission on Wednesday, the Commission resolved to discontinue the program due to new state regulations that very strict compliance is not possible.

“Under the new law, we cannot comply,” said Health Department administrator Roger Topping after presenting a list of about 50 requirements to approve a harm reduction program, including needle replacement. , Told to the board members.

In September 2019, the division began offering “one-to-one” needle replacements that provide addicts with clean needles to prevent the spread of diseases such as hepatitis C and HIV. In October 2020, the Southern Highlands Mental Health Center will provide counseling to those seeking it.

However, during the session earlier this year, a bill was passed to tighten the regulation of the program, contrary to the advice of medical professionals.

“The West Virginia Parliament has passed a new bill in previous sessions that invalidated some needle exchange programs and eliminated many needle exchange programs,” Topping said at the time.

“Why legislators are increasing HIV cases across the state, even though Mercer County is listed by the CDC as a potential HIV outbreak and other counties are currently experiencing HIV outbreaks. Will they pass a bill that they will definitely approve? What are they thinking? “

Senate Bill 334 contains a myriad of “harm reduction” rules, including licensing requirements and process provision. Establishing program requirements. Provide procedures for canceling or limiting the syringe service program and request a syringe service program to coordinate with your healthcare provider.

Not only that, Topping said on Wednesday that the new rules would keep people in need of the program away.

“When you see all these things you have to provide, they stop coming, including tracking each needle with a serial number and the addict needed to sign in,” Topping spreads. Said about addicts who use the program to avoid HIV and HepC.

“Southern Highlands alone cannot tackle this problem,” Topping said of the new requirement. “The way they are structured, they are not allowed to do that.”

“We would obviously have to stop the program all at once,” said Randy Maxwell, chairman of the board, adding that the program has already stopped.

Due to another law passed this year, the Board must submit to the County Commission for approval through a process involving changes made to provide a public forum on this issue.

Greg Packet, a Mercer County Commissioner who attended the Health Commission, called the law “Travesty,” especially given the “horrible” HIV prevalence in the county.

According to Topping, “very few health sectors” in the state can meet these requirements, most of them in big cities.

Packet said it was still a “human resource issue.”

“I think we need to deal with this. I think all the health departments in the state need to go back to Congress and tell them they’re killing people,” he said. Otherwise it will be in fashion. ” Already within a year. “

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