Mercer County Health Department implements new policy to help intravenous drug users

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PRINCETON, WV (WVNS) — In a 2016 study done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Mercer County was listed as one of 220 counties across the country that could experience an HIV outbreak. Not only this, but officials report high Hepatitis rates in the area that can be directly linked to intravenous drug users.

The Mercer County Health Department is planning to distribute clean needles to intravenous drug users. Mercer County Commissioner Greg Puckett said he believes this will be a great policy for the county.

“Being able to have a syringe exchange program locally is extremely important because I think that communicable disease aspect really needs to be kept at a minimum,” Puckett said.

The Mercer County Health Department will be educating drug users on the safety of using needles, and how HIV and Hepatitis spread. Puckett said participants of the program will also receive an I.D. for the needle exchange clinic, instead of giving out their name or other personal information.

“The fact is, it’s giving somebody the opportunity to come in and have a working relationship with a medical professional,” Puckett said. “By having that relationship, we get them to not only focus on getting away from their addiction and getting the treatment and recovery options that they need, but it’s also really about that disease and keeping that disease at a minimum level.”

Clinics will be held on the second and fourth Thursday of every month.

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