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The opioid epidemic has had a strong impact on West Virginia, due to various social, economic, cultural, and environmental hardships. To aid users, Needle Exchange Programs (NEPs) were created to exchange used needles for new sterile ones and provide awareness of treatment and rehabilitation options. This study aimed to assess the effectiveness of NEPs in reducing HIV and Hepatitis C infections in West Virginia, and the subsequent decrease in healthcare costs. In 2018 and 2019, there was an HIV outbreak in Cabell County, with 85 cases requiring CDC intervention in 2019. This occurred after the county-run needle exchange was reduced. Kanawha County also shut down its NEPs in 2018, followed by another HIV outbreak between 1 January 2019 and 13 March 2021, with 65 people testing positive for HIV linked to injection drug use, which required CDC intervention. To rehabilitate the opioid addict population, research on relapse, quality of life, social inclusion, stable housing, habilitation, and treatment adherence should be conducted. Policymakers should also revise existing policies surrounding the provision of harm reduction services to document adequate procedures for SSP procedures. This research suggests that suspending and scaling down NEPs in West Virginia has increased HIV/HCV incidence.


This is an electronic version of an article published in the International Journal of Healthcare Management, 16(3). International Journal of Healthcare Management is available online at: The article’s version of record is available at All rights reserved.

Available for download on Tuesday, October 01, 2024