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Drug epidemic puts three West Virginia counties at HIV risk

Health officials say Mercer, McDowell and Wyoming counties have been noted as being susceptible for spreading HIV amid the state's drug epidemic. (MGN Online)

Three counties in West Virginia have been noted as being susceptible for spreading HIV amid the state's drug epidemic.

Bluefield Daily Telegraph reported Tuesday that according to local and national health department agencies Mercer, McDowell and Wyoming counties are among more than 200 across the United States labeled at risk for an HIV outbreak.

Southern Regional Drug and Violent Crimes Task Force Sgt. J.S. McCarty says a 2016 report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention listed Wyoming as No. 16 of the 220 at-risk counties.

Mercer County Commissioner Greg Puckett says, "It is a community changing event," and "It will kill everything in a community."

Southern Highlands Community Mental Health Center has clinics in all three counties. It treated more than 2,500 individuals for substance abuse in 2016.

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