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West Virginia groups awarded funds for rural health outreach

March 3, 2022 GMT

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — A West Virginia nonprofit group on Thursday awarded grants to 16 groups to address HIV and other health issues and boost COVID-19 testing and vaccination efforts in the state’s most rural and at-risk communities.

Five groups based in Kanawha County, three from Berkeley County and two from Raleigh County are among the recipients of the $1 million Appalachian Partnership Fund, the Community Education Group said in a news release. Other recipients are from Cabell, Jefferson, Marion, Mercer, Monongalia and Ohio counties.

“It’s our honor to partner with them and to support their exemplary work serving our communities,” said CEG President and founder A. Toni Young.

The wide-ranging grants are for health providers and groups serving people hit by homelessness, HIV, viral hepatitis infections or substance abuse.

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They include funds for a mobile van and staff at West Virginia Health Right of Charleston and at Milan Puskar HealthRight of Morgantown to fan out into area counties to provide HIV, COVID-19 and flu testing, the statement said.

Another Charleston-based group, Covenant House, will hire a specialist to find and link people with HIV to health services. Kanawha County, the state’s largest, has one of the nation’s highest spikes of HIV cases.

The state also has had the highest death rate from opioids in the nation. In one of the hardest-hit areas for substance abuse, Cabell County emergency services plans to distribute fentanyl test strips among its Quick Response Teams, the statement said.

Other grants will go toward supporting health and behavioral health initiatives in communities of color, the group said.

Last August, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention awarded the Community Education Group $3.5 million in funding. The group, founded in 1994, is based in the Hardy County community of Lost City, with offices in Washington, D.C.