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North Carolina HB258

In July 2023, Community Education Group and community advocates working on harm reduction policy in North Carolina shared these questions with the NC Senate Health Committee.

Questions for legislators to ask about HB258:

  • When North Carolina passed the Death by Distribution law four years ago, it was framed as a way to go after high-level traffickers, and lawmakers specifically said they didn’t want to go after friends or family members of those who died from an accidental overdose.. This new bill would broaden the law so that people who do not sell drugs, but who simply share drugs that result in death, can be charged with the crime. This will inevitably sweep up friends, boyfriends and girlfriends, siblings and other people who are using drugs together. It will result in heartbreak on top of heartbreak.  Why has this change strayed so far from what lawmakers said just four years ago? 
  • This bill reverts to the old drug war playbook. We’ve said for years that “we can’t arrest our way out of this problem.” Punitive approaches haven’t worked to reduce drug use or negative health consequences for the past 50 years. What makes you think this time will be different?
  • There is a cycle where the public becomes alarmed about new drugs and policy makers increase penalties. This happened in the 80s with crack cocaine. But we must remain clear-headed when making policy decisions and follow the evidence of what works. I have seen no evidence to show that drug-induced homicide (death by distribution) charges decrease overdose or result in less drugs in communities. Have you found empirical evidence supporting this idea?
  • We do have evidence that public health approaches work to address drug use and reduce deaths. Punitive approaches undermine this by actually making people more afraid to seek help. There is research showing that drug-induced homicide laws make people more hesitant to call 911 in overdose emergencies. Won’t this bill make people less likely to call for help?
  • There seems to be the feeling that even if death by distribution laws do not result in lower overdose deaths, that there is still the need to “send a message” and that there is not a real downside to this approach. But emerging evidence is showing that criminalization can actually undermine public health goals. There is a new study that was just published in the American Journal of Public Health showing that drug seizures result in increased overdoses in the surrounding area in the days and weeks following that seizure. They called it the “drug bust paradox.” And right here in North Carolina, research has supported the notion that drug-induced homicide arrests can result in riskier drug use. As we rush to pass these laws because it seems like the right thing to do, wouldn’t it be better to study the impact that our current death by distribution law has had, to see the impact it’s having before we expand the practice?
  • We hear from people who use drugs and advocates that some key changes are needed to our Good Samaritan law in order to ensure that people are willing to call for help. One change is that all drugs should be covered, which this bill does do. But they have pointed out other changes that North Carolina needs to make: We need to join 30 other states that provide immunity for not just prosecution but also arrest. This is a feature of Good Samaritan laws that are effective in reducing overdose deaths. Florida and Virginia recently amended their laws to include this common-sense provision. Another change is that we need to protect others who provide aid at the scene – not just the caller and victim. And we know that the Death by Distribution law prevents people from calling. In an overdose emergency, saving a life should be the number one priority. If you were a parent of someone overdosing, would you want anything to stand in the way of a call for help? Would it be more important to you that your child survive or that someone is punished for their death? Why are the Good Samaritan provisions in this bill so limited?
Track North Carolina HB258!

World AIDS Day 

With World AIDS Day approaching, CEG presented a social media toolkit created in observance of the day and led a discussion on ways CSOs are planning to promote HIV self-testing at their respective World AIDS Day events.

Flu! COVID! Vax & Boosters!!

CEG and YOU: Keeping West Virginia & Appalachia Healthy!

COVID home testing – Free at-home COVID-19 tests

Every home in the U.S. is eligible to order 4 free at-home COVID-19 tests. The tests are completely free. Orders will usually ship in 7-12 days.

If you cannot get to a medical facility, order an at-home testing kit. Let’s keep each other safe!

Latin family hugging – Search for COVID-19 vaccine locations helps you find clinics, pharmacies, and other locations that offer COVID-19 vaccines in the United States.

Safe practices for COVID-19 and the Flu include vaccinations and immunizations, after consulting with a medical professional when possible. You can always consult at the medical centers, to ensure it is just one trip! But let’s protect the Appalachia, as we always have!

COVID vaccine finder:
Free at-home testing kits:
Flu vaccine finder:

Appalachia Partnership Fund: Celebrating Solutions


CEG’s Appalachian Partnership Fund will help local organizations reach at-risk and rural populations 

CHARLESTON, W. Va. – On March 3, 2022, the Community Education Group (CEG) announced the recipients of their Appalachian Partnership Fund, earmarked for local groups serving West Virginia’s most vulnerable and rural populations. CEG chose sixteen local organizations throughout West Virginia for their efforts to address COVID-19 and the HIV, Viral Hepatitis, and Substance Use Disorder syndemic.

CEG, along with the West Virginia Drug Intervention Institute and West Virginia Rural Health Association, will host a 5:30 PM reception at the Four Points by Sheraton Charleston (Capitol City Suite C) to celebrate the work to combat the syndemic of hepatitis, HIV, and substance use in West Virginia. In addition, a virtual launch for awardees unable to attend the public event will be held on March 4, with special guest Dr. Ayne Amjad, Commissioner and State Health Officer for the West Virginia Bureau for Public Health.

“We’re pleased to announce a cohort of deserving grantees from across the state of West Virginia,” said CEG President and Founder A. Toni Young. “It’s our honor to partner with them and to support their exemplary work serving our communities.”

The recipients of the CEG Appalachian Partnership Fund (and county they serve) are: Milan Puskar Health Right (Monongalia), West Virginia Health Right (Kanawha), Beckley Health Right (Raleigh), Good Samaritan Free Health Care (Berkeley), Shenandoah Community Health (Berkeley), Covenant House (Kanawha), Community Connections, Inc. (Mercer), Wheeling Health Right (Ohio), The Martinsburg Initiative (Berkeley), The Healing House (Kanawha), Bright Futures Now (Kanawha), Anchor Medical, LLC (Raleigh), Jefferson County Community Ministries (Jefferson), Cabell County EMS (Cabell), The General Federation of Women’s Clubs (Kanawha), and Reset Incorporated (Marion).

“The West Virginia Drug Intervention Institute is pleased to join this event celebrating partnership and success related to syndemic and substance use response in our state,” said Dr. Susan Bissett, President of the WV DII. “Along with CEG grant announcements, we will share updates on projects and programs across the state that all three organizations are working on to make our communities safer and stronger.”

CEG funds will sponsor and promote events that deliver health services such as COVID-19 testing, COVID-19 vaccination, influenza vaccination, HIV testing, obtaining PPE, COVID-19 and HIV test kits, or wellness education. In addition, CEG monies fund efforts to underwrite county-wide healthcare services, such as supplementing nursing personnel costs, traveling to rural areas, and other measures to provide vital healthcare services to communities in need.

The $1 million partnership fund was made possible due to a CDC agreement with CEG to build the evidence base of effective interventions to improve vaccination coverage and identify and implement strategies to reduce disparities in vaccination coverage in rural and at-risk populations throughout West Virginia.

“Our partnership with the CDC is allowing us to make strides in the fight to improve the health and well-being of West Virginia’s most vulnerable residents. Our effort to identify and work with community groups statewide can become a community partnership model to replicate throughout Appalachia,” added Young. “We’re proud that all these grantees are still in the fight against COVID, more than two years since the pandemic began.”

List of Grantees and Funds Description

Outreach Grantees

Milan Puskar Health Right (MPHR) (Monongalia County)

Providing funds for a mobile van and staff to provide COVID, Influenza, HIV tests in Marion, Monongalia, Preston, Taylor, and Upshur counties.

West Virginia Health Right (Kanawha County)

Providing funds for a mobile van and staff to provide COVID, Influenza, HIV tests in Clay, Logan, Putnam, Roane, and Mingo counties.

Beckley Health Right (Raleigh County)

Beckley Health Right will offer remote testing for COVID-19, HIV, and HEP-C and offer Flu and COVID-19 vaccinations through their Community Care Outreach Program in Southern West Virginia.

Good Samaritan Free Health Care (GSFC) (Berkeley County)

The funding will provide charity health care, medications, diagnostics, medical supplies, preventative supplies, outreach, education, and training to the homeless, uninsured, and under-insured of the Eastern Panhandle. They will focus on Berkeley County and organizations that primarily support the homeless.

Shenandoah Community Health (SCH) (Berkeley County)

This project will increase the capacity of Shenandoah Community Health’s Special Purpose Clinic to combat hepatitis C in the state. SCH will hire a full-time care coordinator to focus on patients who have tested positive for hepatitis C and link them to health services.

Covenant House (Kanawha County)

Covenant House will hire a Support Specialist to locate and support individuals who are unstably housed and living with HIV to link them to health services, including the COVID vaccine.

Community Connections, Inc. (CCI) (Mercer County)

The goal of the COVID Rural Recovery Education and Outreach program is to foster community participation in developing an action plan to address COVID vaccination stigma within the substance use populations of Rural Appalachia. Once created, they will oversee a timely response plan, outreach and education focused on individuals within the target population who have not received a full COVID vaccination.

Wheeling Health Right (Ohio County)

This grant will allow WHR to hire two health care professionals who will dedicate 100% of their time to provide testing and vaccinations, thus allowing the Clinic to expand the hours to provide these services.

The Martinsburg Initiative (TMI) (Berkeley County)

TMI will spend the funds from this grant to employ a social worker working directly with Berkeley County Schools to support children and families in increasing awareness of trauma and substance use and linking families to the COVID 19 vaccine.

The Healing House (Kanawha County)

The Minority Impact Initiative will connect women of color to a holistic behavioral health support system that will help them identify and address the rootwork necessary to heal and move forward after trauma.

Bright Futures Now (Kanawha County)

Bright Futures Now, Inc. is requesting funds to ease the burden on West Virginia healthcare facilities by providing COVID-19 testing and vaccination outreach services to at least 250 individuals in Kanawha County.

Anchor Medical, LLC (Raleigh County)

Anchor Medical will set up a mobile outreach unit to travel between Raleigh, Wyoming, and Mercer counties in WV. The unit will provide COVID-19, Flu, Hepatitis, HIV testing, and COVID, Flu, Hepatitis A&B vaccinations.

Jefferson County Community Ministries (Jefferson County)

JCCM is seeking support to continue reducing and preventing homelessness, offsetting medical expenses, relieving economic harm to workers and households by providing financial and food assistance, and by continuing to operate an emergency shelter. In addition, they will partner with West Virginia University Medicine to link those in need of the COVID 19 vaccine to the shot.

Cabell County EMS (Cabell County)

Huntington Quick Response Team (QRT) proposes to utilize these funds to acquire and distribute fentanyl test strips and educational information about COVID-19 among their quick response teams and link those in need of the shot to services.

Event Grantees

The General Federation of Women’s Clubs (Kanawha County)

The Woman’s Club of Dunbar will host a Community Health Fair in the city of Dunbar, WV, in the spring of 2022.

Reset Incorporated (Marion County)

Reset will host multiple small meetings of communities of color to discuss hesitancy issues related to the COVID 19 vaccine in Fairmont, WV.

About The Community Education Group

Community Education Group (CEG) works to eliminate disparities in health outcomes and improve public health in disadvantaged populations and under-served communities. CEG conducts research, trains community health workers, educates and tests people who are hard to reach or at-risk, shares its expertise through national networks and local capacity-building efforts, and advocates for practical and effective health policies that lead to social change. @CEGInWV

CEG is Hiring! The Community Education Group is seeking applicants of all skill levels to work in a fast-paced environment. Internships, Contract, Part-Time, and Full-Time Positions Available. Submit your cover letter & resume at

People Worth Knowing: Dázon Dixon Diallo

This week’s #PeopleWorthKnowing video interview features Dázon Dixon Diallo DHL, MPH, Founder and President of SisterLove, Inc, established in 1989, the first womxn’s HIV, Sexual and Reproductive Justice organization in the southeastern United States.

Dr. Diallo is a recognized visionary and advocate in the struggle for human rights, sexual and reproductive justice, and the fight against HIV with, and on behalf of, communities of womxn and girls living with HIV and those affected by HIV and STIs transmission.

She is a proud member of In Our Own Voice: National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda Partnership, where she advocates for sexual and reproductive health, rights and justice in public health and prevention policies and programs. Dr. Diallo is a co-chair for the Act Now End AIDS National Coalition. She is a member of several bodies of influence including the Women-At-Risk Subcommittee and the Scientific Advisory Group of the HIV Prevention Trials Network, UNFPA Global Advisory Council, the Women’s Research Initiative (WRI) and a founding member of SisterSong Reproductive Justice Collective.

In 2020, Diallo was appointed to the IAPAC-Lancet HIV Commission on the Future of Urban HIV Response. She is the creator and convener of the Prevention Options for Womxn Advocacy & Research (POWAR) Partnership and WomxnNOW! Institute for SRHRJ for Girls & Womxn of African Descent worldwide.

She has achieved a deep reach with a diverse community of listeners for 28 years, as producer and host of a weekly radio program focused on black womxn, called “Sisters’ Time/WomxnSpeak” on WRFG 89.3FM in Atlanta and Dr. Diallo holds a master’s degree in public health from the University of Alabama at Birmingham (C’97) and bachelor’s degree from Spelman College (C’86) in Atlanta. In 2012, Dr. Diallo had the distinct honor to receive an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from her alma mater, Spelman College.

Learn more about SisterLove, Inc. below: