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Office of AIDS

Access to Sterile Syringes

People who inject drugs continue to be at risk for HIV and hepatitis C (HCV) infection in California. Injection drug use is a risk factor linked to 14.8 percent of all living HIV/AIDS cases in the state, and to the majority of new cases of HCV. Research indicates that access to sterile syringes is associated with lower frequency of sharing and reduced risk of infection.

California law permits public health efforts to expand access to sterile syringes through both syringe exchange programs (SEPs) and nonprescription sale of syringes (NPSS) in pharmacies.  For more information contact Alessandra Ross, Injection Drug Use Specialist at 916-449-5796 or alessandra.ross@cdph.ca.gov. To find syringe exchange and nonprescription syringe sale in pharmacies near you, visit the “You and Your Health” section of the Office of AIDS web page.

Non-Prescription Sale of Syringes in Pharmacies

         These slides provide an overview that can be used to introduce pharmacists and others to the requirements of the law.

         This document provides answers to questions commonly asked by pharmacists and others.

  • Free CPE credits are available for two on-demand webinars on nonprescription syringe sale and the pharmacist's role in HIV prevention. Register for free at http://www.cpha.com/Webinars.

Syringe Exchange Programs (SEPs)

Image of Police OfficerThe Risks of the Job: Protecting Law Enforcement from Needle Stick Injuries (Video)Opens in a new browser window.- Made in cooperation with the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), this educational documentary from the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), Office of AIDS, explains how officers can reduce the risk of infection by needle stick injuries on the job. LAPD officers visit an SEP on their beat and explore the ways that SEPs can help keep law enforcement officers and their communities safer.



  • Legislation and policy letters- CDPH/Office of AIDS memos outlining key changes in California law governing syringe exchange programs, physician and pharmacy provision and sale of nonprescription syringes, syringe possession and disposal.
  • Harm Reduction Coalition- Fact sheets, manuals, brochures, and capacity-building assistance for health departments and organizations that work to improve the health and wellbeing of people who use drugs. 
  • California Office of Viral Hepatitis Prevention- Resources for patients, healthcare providers and health departments, updated regularly to track rapidly changing developments in viral hepatitis treatment and policy.
  • AIDSvuInteractive online map of HIV prevalence in the United States. Includes state and local maps, and lets users filter HIV prevalence data by race/ethnicity, sex and age. AIDSvu is updated regularly with data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) national HIV surveillance database.


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Last modified on: 9/29/2015 10:58 AM