W.Va. needle exchange programs to continue for now
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) - Needle exchange programs in West Virginia will be allowed to continue operating as normal after a federal judge decided to continue to block a new law, along with its strict regulations, that was set to take effect Friday.
U.S. District Judge Robert Chambers indicated that he will eventually side with the state and allow additional safety measures be imposed on needle exchange programs, but the state Department of Health and Human Resources first has to make a number of changes to its rules to make sure the law doesn’t violate the constitution.
It is all tied to Senate Bill 334, which would require any needle exchange program in West Virginia to obtain a license through the state Department of Health and Human Resources.
That license would include meeting various requirements, including HIV screening, offering birth control and drug treatment at every visit.
A lawsuit was filed by the West Virginia American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and a Health Right clinic in Morgantown, claiming those restrictions would force existing needle exchange programs to close and would take vital health resources away people who need them the most.
An official ruling could come as soon as Friday. Keep checking the WSAZ app for the latest information.
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