CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – Despite multiple laws and ordinances on needle exchange programs across West Virginia, there was a ribbon cutting for a syringe drop-off box in Charleston Friday afternoon.
Solutions Oriented Addiction Response otherwise known as SOAR, and the Living AIDS Memorial Garden installed a heavy duty box for people to dispose of their needles. They cite the CDC recommendations for more drop-off locations for the installation.
“Even with the laws, the prohibitive and restrictive laws that we’re facing, this is a solution that we can get together on,” said Tracy Kay, an organizer of SOAR.
Kay says this was one of the recommendations from the CDC, calling Charleston and Kanawha County a ‘concerning’ area with an outbreak of HIV cases. “The CDC on Tuesday told us that we need to expand syringe programs throughout the city and the county and so that means we will need expanded syringe disposal locations and we’re happy this will be the second one in the city,” said Kay.
Adam Hall, a Charleston resident says the box will help clean up the city. “I think one of the biggest complaints in getting rid of the syringe departments in the first place was that people throw them on the ground everywhere, it litters the city, creates a hazard, but nobody seems to want to do anything to help keep it clean,” said Hall.
Charleston already has a box that residents can use, that is by the Kanawha Charleston Health Department, however SOAR worries not everyone is comfortable using it. “It’s the same place where there is a county sheriff parked and we feel that that is discouraging to people who want to dispose there and so we’re glad to have an alternative and we hope to see more of this throughout the city,” said Kay.
Residents hope that more people will be in support of boxes like these. “Regardless of how you feel about handing needles out to folks, I think you ought to support providing them with a place to throw them away,” added Hall.
SOAR says everyone will be welcome to use this box, including people who use drugs, people who are part of community clean-ups, and people who use syringes for diabetes.
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