Raleigh County board of health green-lights needle exchange - WVVA TV Bluefield Beckley WV News, Weather and Sports

Raleigh County board of health green-lights needle exchange

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BECKLEY, W.Va. (WVVA) The Beckley-Raleigh County Board of Health has signed off on a new needle-exchange as part of a harm reduction program. 

The program will include family planning, immunizations, testing for sexually transmitted diseases, and counseling, according to a release by the board on Wednesday. 

The move comes on the heels of a recommendation by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the West Virginia Dept. of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) to implement a harm reduction program after the two agencies found rising levels of Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, and HIV in Raleigh County and Southern West Virginia. 

"There's also a big financial component," said the Beckley-Raleigh County Health Department's Acting Dir. Candace Hurd. "Curing a case of Hepatitis C can cost $250,000. So if we can decrease the incidence of the diseases and save lives, we can also reduce the number of babies born addicted and save taxpayers money."

While funding for the needle-exchange is not in place yet, Hurd said the department has many of the components of the harm reduction program already in place, including Naloxone kits and instruction on how to use them. 

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