Tag Archives: needle exchange program

Mark Caserta – Cabell-Huntington Health Department Syringe Exchange program must be audited – now

24 Aug

cabell health

Cabell-Huntington Health Department building in Huntington, WV.


Mark Caserta is an opinion columnist and editor at Free State Patriot

August 24, 2019


Our country has arguably never been more divided. While progressives are content to blame it on Donald Trump, it began a long time ago. All President Trump did was force spineless liberals out of the closet, into the light and under God’s judgement.

Truthfully, I can distinguish three separate divisions among us. The informed, the uninformed, and the “apathetically” informed.

Informed citizens are able to reach logical conclusions for the betterment of our nation. The uninformed among us (for whatever reason) lack the ability to reach a logical conclusion or choose wisely. The apathetically informed are those who understand the consequences of their choices, but choose a path that best serves their selfish purpose, regardless of its impact on others.

Let me be perfectly clear as I unequivocally place most liberal Democrat politicians in the apathetically informed category!

They’re not stupid. Many are business people, lawyers, or administrators that understand the adverse impact of higher taxes, overreaching regulation and lawlessness, but choose to propagate these big government policies because it serves the purpose of creating a perpetual voter base dependent upon government or “the hand that feeds them”.

There couldn’t be a clearer case of high crimes and misdemeanors against one’s nation.

Among those liberal decisions proving to wear on the foundation of any city which adopts it, is the decision to implement a syringe exchange program despite its poor track record across the nation.

The syringe exchange program has been around to some degree for the past 20 years. Look around you. Has anything gotten better? Has the opioid epidemic improved? Are there fewer deaths? Are their less sexually transmitted cases of HIV? Certainly not!

Yet, by presenting it under the guise of “compassion” and “care” for our fellow man, liberals make an emotional connection with the “uninformed,” as well as the “apathetically informed”, potentially giving them support of a mob majority and enabling them to pursue their liberal tenets.

Since the beginning of 2018, there has been a dramatic uptick in reported HIV cases in our area. Reportedly, there been 55 new cases of HIV in Cabell county, which includes the city of Huntington. State health officials claim nearly all the infections were transmitted through injection drug use.

It’s my opinion there is no clear way to make the distinction between sexually transmitted and syringe transmitted HIV, since many partake of both. I believe officials often tell the public what best serves their agenda.

A March column on WSAZ’s website, by Nick Oliver, reports the Cabell County needle exchange program is seeing more needles coming in than they see going out. The Cabell County Health Department did add a disclaimer, saying “it is impossible to determine which needles were used to inject drugs, as many may be related to medical treatments such as diabetes”.

Really? So, it’s forensically impossible to test what was injected from the needle? Any “Columbo” fan knows that’s malarkey! And do you really expect us to believe people are just “showing up” to return needles without an even exchange? How is that even mathematically possible?

Perhaps it’s because we really don’t want the public to know the truth? It was interesting the assertion was also made in the column, regarding the HIV cluster, “mostly all avoidable with the use of clean needles.”

How about some intellectual honesty, folks – geez.

In the column, Health Department Director Dr. Michael Kilkenny stated his departmental goal was to help people stop drug use.

“If they are really wanting to stop, we can get them in a program today or even tomorrow,” said Kilkenny. “I hope this means there are less users. Our goal is for nobody to inject.”

Now, I’m just a small-town country boy, but how does providing them free needles accomplish that goal? Dr. Kilkenny added a positive spin by sharing, “There are a lot of things going on that are working here in Huntington and things are getting better generally.”

Really? Compared to what, Dr.?

We’ve seen how liberal policies, like the syringe exchange program have contributed to the demise of large cities like Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco, one of the earliest adopters of the needle exchange. But it isn’t confined to the large cities or states any longer.

Per the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics, West Virginia has the highest rate of fatal opioid overdoses among all U.S. states, with 49.6 per 100,000 individuals. (For naysayers who don’t understand “per-capita” statistics, look it up. It’s how relative statistics are calculated)

Here are the “top ten” fatal opioid overdose states in the nation as ranked by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

  1. West Virginia – 49.6
  2. Ohio – 39.2
  3. District of Columbia – 34.7
  4. New Hampshire – 34
  5. Maryland 32.2
  6. Maine 29.9
  7. Massachusetts – 28.2
  8. Kentucky – 27.9
  9. Delaware – 27.8
  10. Connecticut – 27.7

Interested in how many of these states have at least one syringe exchange program? This may shock you, but there is no arguing the correlation. Look at the graphic I prepared below from Becker’s Hospital Review website.  All of them!

needle states

Folks, we cannot allow this program to continue without oversight. There must be an audit, preferably conducted by the Department of Health and Human Services who conducted a similar audit in Kanawha County and shut it down!

We have absolutely nothing by which to gauge this program’s success other than the Cabell County Health Department’s word. I’m not even claiming it should be discontinued, at this point. Let’s look at it, leverage its strengths, deal with its deficits and determine if there is any value in it at all!

Frankly, based on results, there has been no real value or success that can be measured.

Government without accountability is dangerous. People are dying and it’s getting worse. It’s time for the people to act. Contact your local representative and even the governor’s office. Demand accountability.

Our city is dying a slow death. It’s time for some leadership “by the people”. Choose not to be part of the “uninformed” among us. We need you in the “informed” category!

The apathetically informed will never change.

Sarah Thacker: An Overview of the Needle Exchange Program in Huntington, WV.

13 Aug

Is this program actually being effective in reducing drug abuse in Huntington?

sarah thacker

Sarah Thacker is a professional, free-lance writer with a versatile writing style.  Free State Patriot welcomes her youthful, energetic style and versatility to our blog as a regular contributor.



If you spend much time walking around Huntington, chances are you’ve seen the new state flower: the hypodermic needle. They pop up in the grass, on sidewalks, in alleys, and in massive heaps in parks. I’ve personally even seen them in the middle of the road, making me wonder how that even happened.

It’s becoming a problem, with children being stabbed by them while playing in public parks and working-class pedestrians stepping on them while walking home from work. Even though it’s become public knowledge through documentaries on national news networks and popular video streaming platforms that Huntington is one of the most drug-addled cities in the United states, there are no documentaries that show where the needles come from.

A lot of people would, understandably, assume that most drug addicts wouldn’t have the money to buy needles. Stereotypically, drug addicts spend their money on their drugs, and when their money is spent, they steal from other people to fund their addiction. So, what do they do when they have their drugs, but not the needles to do the drugs with? That’s a problem that the city and county officials took it upon themselves to solve.

Shortly after Huntington was dubbed the overdose capital of the nation, city officials and the Health Department created a “Harm Reduction Program”, which is colloquially referred to as the “needle exchange program”. It’s goal is to give drug addicts clean needles and supplies so that they aren’t tempted to share needles with other users and spread blood borne illnesses and diseases like Hepatitis C and HIV. There are, what I consider, some outrageous oversights regarding this program.

First, an addict can walk in, and for a nominal fee, receive a handy hype kit. It includes everything that they need to do drugs, except the drugs. Secondly, the term “exchange” is used far too loosely regarding this program. It’s not a 1-for-1 exchange system. If they pay the fee, they can walk in and get more needles without ever bringing any back.

This causes a lot of problems for those of us who live and work in Huntington. It seems that the officials are enabling drug addicts and the drug problem, literally handing them the supplies they need to do drugs and overdose. And then taxpayers must pay for the harm reduction program and the emergency services to help the addicts when they overdose. As of right now, taxpayers are literally paying to keep drug addicts alive, and no one really asked us our opinion about that. And because the program doesn’t use a true 1-for-1 exchange, addicts are leaving needles wherever they’re using, which seems to be in mostly public places.

There are those that argue that without the harm reduction program, disease will run rampant throughout the population. But, it seems to me that most illnesses associated with drug use are blood borne, not airborne. This means that they’re not super contagious. All one should have to do to not catch a blood borne illness from a needle- drug user is to avoid exchanging bodily fluids with them, which seems like a good rule of thumb, in general.

Should we end the exchange program? Probably. But we’ll need to have a solid game plan in effect to combat the drug use, crime and homelessness that drug use and addiction brings with it, and that’s a topic for another article.


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