LOGAN, W.Va. — Although the Logan County Commission has voted against the idea of supporting a needle exchange program for the local health department, one man believes there is still an effort by some to launch the plan.
Christopher Trent is the Victims Service Coordinator for Logan County Sheriff’s Department, but he went before the Logan County Commission as a private citizen concerned about the idea after seeing rumors on social media and hearing them around town. Trent filed a Freedom of Information Act Request and says he was was troubled by what it revealed.
“The FOIA showed in 2017 the Logan County Health Department did apply for a needle exchange grant,” said Trent speaking on 580-Live with Danny Jones on 580-WCHS Radio. “The health department was instructed by the state DHHR that if they wanted future funding, they would apply for this grant.”
Needle exchange or “harm reduction” programs are a controversial topic in West Virginia where the use of intravenous drugs is widespread. Supporters believe offering up an exchange of needles to drug users without repercussions lessens the chance of a spread of blood borne disease. Opponents of the idea say the programs only encourage criminal behavior and do noting to stop the widespread use of drugs like heroine and fentanyl.
“Cabell-Huntington Health Department has given out nearly a million needles in four years,” said Trent. “They’re just making it rain needles in Cabell County, but they are the location of the state’s largest HIV cluster. How is that possible?”
Trent said he sought a vote by the Logan County Commission to consider a county ordinance banning needle exchange. The measure passed on a vote of 2-1 to have the county’s legal counsel draw up the proposal. Trent thinks its the right decision.
“If you want to get people help, and I have addicts in my family, a clean needle in someone’s hand has never helped them into rehab,” he said.