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Syringe Exchange Program

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Published on December 22, 2016. Last modified on March 23, 2019

Syringe exchange is a public health intervention which is proven to reduce the transmission of bloodborne pathogens like HIV and hepatitis C in the community. Syringe exchange programs work by providing people who cannot or will not stop injecting illegal drugs with new syringes and a place to safely dispose of used syringes. In addition, syringe exchange programs serve as a point of access to health education and other physical and mental health services. They provide a wide range of services in addition to syringe exchange and disposal.  These services include HIV and hepatitis C testing, overdose prevention training, free naloxone distribution, and referrals to drug treatment, housing, and mental health services. They also provide first aid and basic supplies.

Monterey County Board of Supervisors authorized the first syringe exchange programs in 1994. Syringe exchanges programs have been operating in Monterey County nearly continuously since then. California Health and Safety Code Section 11364.7 (a) guarantees freedom from criminal prosecution for public entities and their agents or employees who distribute syringes or syringes during a lawfully authorized syringe exchange project/program.

As of January 2017, Access Support Network operates a syringe exchange program in Monterey County authorized by the Monterey County Board of Supervisors.  Please see below for service locations and dates.  

Monterey County Syringe Exchange Schedule

Location

Days/times

15 Soledad Street, Salinas, CA  93901

Mondays and Fridays 2:00pm - 4:00pm*

*Syringe Exchange will be closed on the following 2019 holidays:

  • 2/18/2019 Presidents' Day
  • 5/27/2019 Memorial Day
  • 9/2/2019 Labor Day
  • 10/14/2019 Columbus Day
  • 11/11/2019 Veterans' Day
  • 11/29/2019 Thanksgiving

Request for Public Comment: Respond before April 30, 2019

The Monterey County Health Department's Public Health Bureau is actively seeking comment from the public about syringe exchange services in Monterey County.  Businesses, community groups, and residents are encouraged to provide feedback by contacting Kristy Michie, Program Manager, at 831-755-4503 Monday through Friday between 8:00am and 5:00pm or by emailing MichieKJ@co.monterey.ca.us.  Your input helps us better serve our communities.  Input received before April 30, 2019, will be incorporated into our 2018 report on syringe exchange services.  However, public comment is also welcome throughout the year.   

Syringe Exchange Utilization Data

Monterey County Health Department provides information on syringe exchange utilization to inform stakeholders and the public of syringe exchange activities in Monterey County.  Questions about syringe exchange utilization data can be directed to Access Support Network at 831-975-5016 or to Kristy Michie, Monterey County Health Department, at 831-755-4503.

Utilization Category
2017
2018
 Total Number of Syringes Distributed
 50,892  113,847
 Total Number of Syringes Collected
 50,899  114,273
 Total Number of Individuals Served
 3,048  3,727
 Gender of Individuals Served
   
 Male
 67%  63%
 Female
 32%  32%
 Transgender
 1%  3%
 Other  0% 2%
Race & Ethnicity of Individuals Served
   
 American Indian & Other Indigenous Peoples
 - 7%
 Asian, Non-Hispanic
 1%  0%
 Black or African-American, Non-Hispanic
 9%  6%
 Hispanic, Any Race
 42%  39%
 White, Non-Hispanic
 34%  41%
 Other and Multi-Racial, Non-Hispanic
 15%  7%
 Geographic Region of Residence
   
 Monterey Peninsula & Big Sur
 3%  18%
 North County
 4%  9%
 Salinas Area
 90%  73%
 South County
 3%  0%
 Risk Information
   
 Injection Drug User
 100%  100%
 Friend, Family Member, or Sex Partner
 0%  0%
 Homeless -
 37%
 Other  0%  0%
 Assistance Referrals
   
 Substance Abuse Treatment
 Not Collected
 29
 HIV and/or Hepatitis C Testing
 Not Collected
 37
 Naloxone and Overdose Education
 Not Collected
 103
 Primary Care or Wound Care
 Not Collected
 13
 Housing Services
 Not Collected
 2
 Food Bank and Food Assistance
 Not Collected
 19
 Other  Not Collected
 0

Nonprescription Syringe Sales

Beginning January 1, 2015, new legislation removes prior limits on the number of syringes pharmacies may sell without a prescription. Many pharmacists are unaware of the current law that allows pharmacies to sell syringes without a prescription or are unclear on what the law allows and requires. While the law allows pharmacies to sell syringes without a prescription, it does not require that pharmacies sell syringes without a prescription.  Please check with your pharmacy to determine their policy.

For more information, review the Office of AIDS Pharmacist Fact Sheet released December 2014.

Additional materials and resources are available on the Office of AIDS syringe access website.

If you have questions please contact Kristy Michie, Program Manager, at michiekj@co.monterey.ca.us or 831-755-4503.

Naloxone for Overdose Reversal

Naloxone is an opioid antagonist that is used to temporarily reverse the effects of an opioid overdose, namely slowed or stopped breathing.  Expanding the awareness and availability of this medication is a key part of the public health response to the opioid epidemic.  Naloxone is a safe antidote to a suspected overdose and, when given in time, can save a life.If you or someone you know meets any of the following criteria, there is elevated risk for an opioid overdose.

  • Misusing prescription opioids (like oxycodone) or using heroin or illicit synthetic opioids (like fentanyl or carfentanil).
  • Having an opioid use disorder, especially those completing opioid detoxification or being discharged from treatment that does not include ongoing use of methadone, buprenorphine, or naltrexone.
  • Being recently discharged from emergency medical care following an opioid overdose.
  • Being recently released from incarceration with a history of opioid misuse or opioid use disorder.

Everyone has a role to play in addressing this public health issue. 

  • Talk with your doctor or pharmacist about obtaining naloxone.  Some insurances cover the cost.
  • Learn the signs of opioid overdose, like pinpoint pupils, slowed breathing, or loss of consciousness.
  • Get trained to administer naloxone in the case of a suspected emergency.

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