By Associated Press - Tuesday, April 20, 2021

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - West Virginia’s largest city has passed an ordinance to tightly regulate needle exchange programs that closely resemble legislation recently signed by the governor amid a spike in HIV cases in the state.

The move by the Charleston City Council on Monday night requires local exchange program operators to have a license, while those that currently aren’t certified by the state must close. The ordinance is effective this coming weekend, news outlets reported.

Under the ordinance, programs must mark syringes for tracking purposes, and public hearings must be held in an area where a program will be located.

Republican Gov. Jim Justice signed legislation last week that critics say will make it harder to get clean needles.

The new rules are taking effect amid one of the nation’s highest spikes in HIV cases related to intravenous drug use. The surge is clustered primarily around the capital of Charleston and the city of Huntington.

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