Increasing Syringe Access and HIV Prevention in California: Findings from a Survey of Local Health Jurisdiction Key Personnel
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This article presents results from the first survey of California local health jurisdictions (LHJs) subsequent to passage of legislation that allows for over-the-counter pharmacy sales of syringes. In 2004 Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed Senate Bill 1159 (SB1159) into law to “prevent the spread of HIV, hepatitis and other blood-borne disease among drug users, their sexual partners and their children.” This legislation permits counties and cities to authorize a local disease prevention demonstration project (DPDP). Once authorized, a DPDP permits individuals to legally purchase and possess up to ten syringes from registered pharmacies without a doctor’s prescription. From June to August 2005, we surveyed health departments in all 61 LHJs to assess implementation status of SB1159. Fifty-seven (93%) LHJs responded. Nine (16%) had approved a DPDP by August 2005, 17 (30%) were in the process of obtaining authorization, and 18 (32%) anticipated that SB1159 would never be authorized in their LHJ. Among LHJs that do not plan to approve a DPDP (n = 18), the reasons included: strong community opposition (41%), competing priorities (35%), law enforcement opposition (29%), and little or no interest among pharmacies (29%). In LHJs that have authorized a DPDP, 31.4% of pharmacies registered to legally sell nonprescription syringes. Preliminary results indicate that local coalitions, comprised of public health, waste management and pharmacy officials, have been instrumental in facilitating DPDP authorization. Further research is needed to identify facilitators and barriers to adopting SB1159, to identify areas for improving technical assistance to implementers, and to assess the public health impact of the legislation.
KeywordsHealth policy HIV/AIDS Injection drug use Pharmacies Sterile syringe access.
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