Syringe Access in California Signed by the Governor

In October 2011, Governor Jerry Brown signed two bills to improve syringe access as part of the State’s comprehensive approach to the prevention of HIV & hepatitis. David Kan, MD, Chair of CSAM’s 2011 State of the Art in Addiction Medicine Conference announced this as a public health victory to a crowd of over 400 physicians gathered for the conference. Kan was one of several CSAM members who participated with CSAM’s Committee on Public Policy to gain passage for the bills. Over the summer, Kan testified before a legislative committee at the request of CSAM.

The two bills as signed go into affect on January 1, 2012 as follows:

Syringe Exchange (AB 604-Skinner) Health, social services and other programs may apply to the California Department of Public Health to add syringe exchange or the program may apply to their lo/sites/default/files/syringepresentationab206.pdfcal city or county government for an authorization.

Pharmacists & Physicians Distribution of Syringes (SB 41-Yee)  A physician or pharmacist may provide 30 or fewer syringes to an adult without prescription. An adult may possess up to 30 syringes for personal use, from a pharmacist, physician or authorized syringe exchange program.

The bills are supported by both state and federal agencies:

“Access to sterile syringes is unquestionably vital in the struggle to reduce the spread of HIV, HCV, and other blood-borne infections among IDUs, their sex partners, and their children.”
-- Office of AIDS, California Department of Public Health, September 2011

“Several studies have found that providing sterilized equipment to injection drug users substantially reduces risk of HIV infection, increases the probability that they will initiate drug treatment, and does not increase drug use.”
-- National HIV/AIDS Strategy – White House, July 2010

“Syringe service programs (SSP) are widely considered to be an effective way of reducing HIV transmission among individuals who inject illicit drugs and there is ample evidence that SSPs also promote entry and retention into treatment”
-- US Department of Health & Human Services, February 2011

For more information, contact: Alessandra Ross, Office of AIDS 
916-449-5796 Alessandra.Ross@CDPH.CA.GOV