WVU in the News: Needle exchanges are a proven tool to fight HIV, but officials still want to shut them down

While COVID-19 raged in the United States, a set of public health crises was pushed to the background.

HIV and drug use flourished during the pandemic, fueled in part by extended isolation and economic fallout.

Relapses were commonplace and services harder to access. Now, as the U.S. emerges from the worst of its outbreak, it's grappling with pockets of HIV linked to sharing needles.

In April, West Virginia legislators donned face masks to gather in person and vote on a bill to restrict syringe service programs in the state.

The bill passed the Senate and House easily and is slated to go into effect in July. Charleston's City Council passed a similar bill mandating one-to-one exchange in April.

"It is now a crime to adhere to CDC best practice for syringe access and HIV prevention," said Robin Pollini, a substance use and infectious disease epidemiologist and associate professor at West Virginia University.

Read full story from ABC News.