Vet Voices

Restraining order extended on law limiting West Virginia’s needle exchange programs

Ohio County

(WTRF) – A restraining order has been extended on a new West Virginia law that placed limits on needle exchange programs.

It was set to take effect on Friday, but a lawsuit from the ACLU put it on hold for now.

Prior to this new law, needle exchange programs were run by counties according to their needs. The new law will now require those county health departments to follow a set of state-based rules if they want to run one of these programs.

Health officials are worried the new law could lead to more cases of HIV.

The reason you would have increased cases is one, the programs disappear. Agencies that traditionally do it, whether county health departments, decide that it is too much of a burden financially and programmatically, to actually put these together, and may decide to stop and focus on something else. So there we could see an increase in disease.

Howard Gamble, Wheeling-Ohio County Health Department Administrator

In Gamble’s opinion, the new law is an obstacle to public health efforts. However, he does say similar laws are already in effect for things like how restaurants are monitored.

He would have preferred limitations on needle exchange program come from the state health department.

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