DHHR Announces Funding for Cabell County Syringe Exchange
The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) today announced $10,000 in funding, as well as $10,000 in technical support, to the Cabell-Huntington Health Department (CHHD) to launch the state’s first-ever Syringe Exchange Program (SEP) pilot project. DHHR has partnered with the City of Huntington and the CHHD to assist with the reduction of illness/infection within the intravenous drug use population in Cabell County.
“This pilot program highlights the partnership of DHHR, the City of Huntington and the Cabell Huntington Health Department coming together to not only acknowledge the seriousness of intravenous drug use, but to take action in helping to reduce the spread of infectious diseases in our communities caused by sharing needles,” said DHHR Cabinet Secretary Karen L. Bowling.
Syringe Exchange Program (SEP) are considered part of a Harm Reduction Program to reduce the risk of spreading diseases such as hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and HIV/AIDS.
“As the Mayor’s Office of Drug Control Policy set forth an aggressive effort to defeat the epidemic of hopelessness and addiction, our intent was to challenge the traditional inclinations of our community to be transformed into thoughtful, nontraditional initiatives,” said Huntington Mayor Steve Williams. “I commend the DHHR and the Cabell-Huntington Health Department for boldly embracing the challenge. Our community is setting a public health standard that will likely be emulated across the state.”
Dr. Rahul Gupta, State Health Officer and Commissioner for the Bureau for Public Health, echoed the Mayor’s comments adding “While this is the first Syringe Exchange Program in the State of West Virginia, the DHHR is funding this project as another innovative approach to addressing the challenges associated with intravenous drug use. We look forward to a thorough evaluation that will help guide other communities looking for a similar evidence-based approach.”
The one-year pilot project is expected to launch by late summer to early fall.
CHHD’s Physican Director Dr. Micahel Kilkenny touted the SEP as one part of the health department’s Harm Reduction Program. “The Cabell-Huntington Health Department will work hard to reduce the harm to all our citizens from this epidemic of drug abuse.”
DHHR: Allison.C.Adler@wv.gov, 304-558-7899; City of Huntington: firstname.lastname@example.org, 304-962-8138; CHHD: Elizabeth.A.Ayers@wv.gov, 304-523-6483, Ext. 258