CHARLESTON — West Virginia will receive $393,100 from the federal government to detect the spread of hepatitis. The funding comes as the state deals with one of the nation’s highest spikes in HIV cases related to intravenous drug use.
Nearly $78,700 of the total funding is devoted to infectious diseases stemming from opioid use. The state has had the nation’s highest rate of opioid drug addictions and drug overdose deaths.
The state's U.S. senators announced the funding from the Department of Health and Human Services on Tuesday.
The HIV surge, clustered primarily around the capital of Charleston and the city of Huntington, is being attributed at least in part to the cancellation in 2018 of a needle exchange program that offered clean syringes to injection drug users not able to quit the habit altogether.
“As Kanawha County and other parts of the state continue to battle rising HIV cases, it’s important that we continue to direct more resources to protect those living with HIV and other infectious diseases in our communities,” Republican Sen. Shelley Moore Capito said in a news release.
Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin added that he is pleased the investments “will also help to address the side-effects of drug misuse, including infectious diseases.”