Orange County has the 4th highest rate of HIV in California. Santa Ana has the highest rates of HIV in Orange County, where 15.1% of new infections are due to injection drug use. This is nearly double the county average. Orange County has nearly 1,000 cases of hepatitis C. Needle exchange programs elsewhere have repeatedly proven to be effective, low-cost public health methods for reducing infectious disease transmission. To prevent the continued spread of HIV and hepatitis C in our community, there is a need for access to clean needles as well as a safe way for needles to be properly disposed of.
The goal of OCNEP is to reduce the transmission of infectious diseases, especially HIV and hepatitis C, by providing sterile injection and safer sex supplies. OCNEP offers on-site HIV and hepatitis C testing as well as referrals to drug abuse treatment services and housing for the homeless. OCNEP collects and safely dispose of used needles. This gets dirty needles off Orange County streets, keeping our cities clean and safe for everyone, including our children.OCNEP provides clients with portable sharps containers, which are small, FDA-approved containers for needles. This is a temporary way in which people can safely store used needles before properly disposing of them at the needle exchange. This helps reduce the risk of community members, law enforcement officers, and others from getting needle-stick injuries.
Please sign this petition in support of the Orange County Needle Exchange to continue harm reduction services in Orange County. We urge the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) to act immediately to support the re-certification of the needle exchange and to sign a new MOU to keep us operating!