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WISE COUNTY, Va. (AP) — Virginia is set to open its first needle exchange program later this year as it tries to combat the spread of infectious diseases due to increased opioid use.

The Roanoke Times reports that the program is likely to open in or around Wise County in Southwest Virginia. The county saw 120 people die from an opioid overdose between 2007 and 2017 and the county’s hepatitis C infection rate is double the state’s rate.

Virginia Department of Health official Elaine Martin said the department plans to authorize the program soon. Virginia recently passed a law legalizing needle exchange programs. A total of 55 localities are eligible, but only Wise County has submitted an application so far.


Information from: The Roanoke Times,