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An effort to provide citizens with needle disposal units is underway

Published: Jul. 19, 2021 at 9:49 PM EDT
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MORGANTOWN, W.Va (WDTV) - The Milan Puskar Health Right hopes to install public needle disposal units as the need for safe needle disposal continues to rise.

“There are a lot of syringes and sometimes people are careless and leave them in places that they shouldn’t leave them,” said Health Right Executive Director Laura Jones.

Health Right Executive Director Laura Jones says in 2015, the free clinic opened a harm-reduction syringe exchange program.

A new West Virginia syringe exchange law signed into law by the governor in April, forced them to put a hold on the program.

Jones and others believe the law will limit access to clean needles amid a spike in HIV cases.

“The new law is what we believe to be a restrictive law that will make it difficult for anyone to provide syringe services in the state of West Virginia,” said Jones.

Now, Health Right is planning to launch a new program to help people safely dispose of syringes.

The clinic hopes to soon be able to set up the needle disposal units throughout Morgantown.

Patients can return their syringes by inserting the sharp end first into the cyclinder on top of the box.

“...and we will take care of making sure that they get disposed of properly,” said Jones.

Monongalia County Commissioner Tom Bloom says neighborhood volunteers expose themselves to bloodborne pathogens and potentially lethal substances cleaning up used needles concentrated around specific locations.

“Folks let’s get realistic, I mean I was on the rail trail, I was on the rail trail board and we’re picking up these needles left and right, it’s got to stop!”

Commissioner Bloom believes this new program that Health Right is working on has the potential to help.

”these containers, it’s not going to cause more people to do it (litter) you already have them doing it. let’s move ahead and get this done,” said Bloom.

Jones says the next step is to meet with the police chief and others about ideas on where they the needle disposal units should be placed..

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