Santa Cruz Good Times

Tuesday
Jul 07th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Town Hall with Supervisor John Leopold

John LeopoldSThe Board of Supervisors recently heard heated concerns from residents about hazardous waste, such as syringes, being found in parks, beaches, etc. What is the Board doing to respond to these complaints?

First, some background on this issue is important. By 1995, the Centers for Disease Control reported that nearly three-fourths of all new HIV infections were linked to injection drug use, transmitted by sharing contaminated syringes. That same year, only seven California counties had a higher prevalence rate of HIV/AIDS than Santa Cruz, and an increasing number of these cases stemmed from injection drug use. At that time, our Health Services Agency reported that the percentage of AIDS cases not attributable to male/male sex had more than doubled from a mean of 12 percent in the years 1983-1990 to a mean of 27 percent in 1991-1993, and that 43 percent of female AIDS cases in the county were injection drug users.

In an effort to help curb the spread of disease, the Santa Cruz Needle Exchange Project was developed and soon partnered with the Santa Cruz AIDS Project (SCAP). Today in Santa Cruz County, as a result of an effective needle exchange program operating for more than 25 years, injection drug users make up only 12.5 percent of the HIV cases compared to the statewide average of 20 percent. The efficacy of syringe exchange programs is well documented and supported by research carried out by the American Medical Association, the National Institute of Health, the Journal of Public Health, and others.

In 2009, SCAP’s budget for education and prevention programs was cut by more than $300,000 by the state, and the agency was no longer able to support the needle exchange program. In an effort to maintain this critical prevention program, community volunteers organized themselves and raised their own funds to continue this vital service.

Under the leadership of our new Public Health Officer, the county is currently working to provide comprehensive oversight of the program. A new advisory board has been created and includes public health professionals, law enforcement, community-based organizations, pharmacists, and the state Office of AIDS. We will be establishing new sites for needle exchange at county Health Department buildings in both Watsonville and Santa Cruz. Additional sites will be identified to ensure access, and the program will be run by county health staff with additional support from community volunteers. New disposal kiosks will also be installed in various locations to provide places where needles can be safely discarded.

It is also important to include pharmacies in any strategy addressing safe disposal of needles. SB 41, which went into effect in 2012, permits pharmacists to sell up to 30 syringes without a prescription. Pharmacies are also required to provide written information or verbal counseling to customers on how to access drug treatment, access testing and treatment for HIV and HEP C, and safely dispose of sharps waste. Unfortunately, many pharmacies are not fulfilling their responsibilities. County Health Services has been working with pharmacies to distribute free sharps disposal containers, and while some have been willing to work with the county, others have chosen not to participate.

Research shows that syringe exchange programs do not increase drug use and in fact contribute to helping connect people to treatment. The history of the fight against AIDS has always involved working with marginalized communities and developing strategies that promote effective public health. It has been proven that communicable diseases do not stay within their original host communities but spread into the general population.  We must maintain our vigilance against the spread of HIV and other blood-borne disease among the injection drug using community. Preventing the spread of disease and ensuring the safety of our community will only be achieved through a combination of a well-supported needle exchange program, providing safe disposal of used syringes, and expanding drug treatment availability. I will continue to work together with county staff and our community to improve public health and safety.

Comments (1)Add Comment
what do they use the syringes for ?
written by lilithadams, April 03, 2013
'Research shows that syringe exchange programs do not increase drug use and in fact contribute to helping connect people to treatment.' PURE BULL - HOW STUPID DO THEY THINK WE ARE. IF THEY USE SYRINGES TO SHOOT DRUGS THEN GIVING THEM MORE SYRINGES HELPS THEM TO USE MORE DRUGS.

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

The Boards Are Back in Town

More than a century after a famed trio of Hawaiian princes first surfed in Santa Cruz, their redwood olo surfboards are returning to the Museum of Art & History

 

We Hold These Truths to Be Self-Evident

Saturday, July 4, is the 239th birthday of the United States, commemorating the signing of the Declaration of Independence (the U.S. astrology chart has Aquarius moon—freedom for its people, by its people). Cancer, a liberating and initiating sign, is the “gate” where Spirit enters matter. Cancer receives and distributes Ray 3 (Divine Intelligence) and Ray 7 (new rules, new rhythms, new free nation under God). Cancer represents an intelligent freethinking humanity that can and must create right economics for the world. This means a policy of sharing, an opportunity for the U.S. when Venus (money, resources, possessions, etc.) retrogrades July and August in Leo (the heart of the matter). The United States has a unique spiritual task for the world: to lead humanity within and toward the light, accomplished by its people who must first awaken to this task, learn discrimination and be directed by the soul to assume the Herculean task of spiritual world leadership. Let us review the first words of our Constitution: “We the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this constitution for the United States of America.” Let us form that union together. The following is a review of the spiritual tasks for each sign. Read all the signs. They all apply to everyone.  

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of July 3

Santa Cruz area movie theaters >
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Lunch is Packed

Picnic basket lunches from Your Place, plus smoked chili peppers, and new owners at Camellia Tea House

 

What would you like the Supreme Court to rule on next?

Raising the minimum wage so that those that are in poverty now can have a higher standard of life. Greanna Smith, Soquel, Nanny

 

Bruzzone Family Vineyards

Bruzzone Family Vineyards is a small operation run by Berna and John Bruzzone. Starting out a few years ago making only Chardonnay, they eventually planted Pinot Noir on their extensive property and now make this varietal as well.

 

Ty’s Eatery

Pop-up hooks up with Santa Cruz Food Lounge for healthy comfort food