Free needle exchange program coming to Roanoke in a few weeks

Local News

ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — A free needle exchange program will be available in Roanoke in just a few weeks. It will deliver new needles to intravenous drug users through a mobile unit to prevent the spread of disease.

It’s all through roanoke’s Drop-In Center, which has announced it will also open a second location on Williamson Road.

According to Director Pam Meador, the second location will open on January 13 and will start intakes that week, but will not house the needle exchange program. In fact, no illegal needles, drugs, or other paraphernalia are allowed on-site.

A few things to keep in mind: the group is grant-funded and needed approval from City Council, the State Health Commissioner, and the Chief of Police to do this, all of which it has received.

The needle exchange program is only open to active enrollees, who must agree and stick to rules and regulations that Meador calls the strictest in Virginia.

Meador says, with the exception of the first visit only, the needle exchange is a one-to-one syringe swap. She roughly estimated 50-100 participants in the first six months.

“For my children and my grandchildren to be able to go to a public park or walk through a parking lot and not be at risk of stepping on a dirty needle or a used needle, to me, that is worth it,” she said.

Meador adds that the Williamson Road location serves as a duplication of services to what’s offered on Campbell Avenue: HIV and Hepatitis C testing, linkages to care, and harm reduction services.

The new location comes in addition to two other Drop-In centers opened this year in Danville and Marion.

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