Law allowing health officials to distribute clean needles to expire in 2020

Law allowing health officials to distribute clean needles to expire in 2020
A needle used for heroin injection lies in the woods off Jeff Davis Highway in Richmond, where a woman was spending the night. (Source: Julia Rendleman | Virginia Mercury)

In 2017, Virginia passed a law allowing some localities to launch needle exchange programs, an attempt to prevent the spread of infectious diseases like hepatitis C and HIV.

But it came with a hitch: the law is due to sunset in 2020.

The Virginia Department of Health’s goal was to collect enough data to illustrate the programs’ efficacy. But a year away from the sunset, only four sites have been approved, three of which are up and running: Health Brigade in Richmond, along with the Lenowisco and Mount Rogers health districts.

“It’s a new concept for Virginia, and I think even in the communities where there’s a lot of support, nobody’s really certain who wants to jump on as the lead agent,” said Elaine Martin, director of Virginia’s HIV and hepatitis prevention services.

See the full story on Virginia Mercury.com.

The Virginia Mercury is a new, nonpartisan, nonprofit news organization covering Virginia government and policy.