Governor Brown Signs Important HIV Prevention Bill Expanding Access to Sterile Syringes in California Pharmacies

SAN FRANCISCO, Oct. 10, 2011/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- This morning Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill that will dramatically advance California's ability to prevent the spread of HIV and other life-threatening blood-borne diseases among the state's most vulnerable citizens. The bill, SB 41, authorizes the sale of clean syringes to adults at pharmacies statewide without a prescription.  The new law means California now has another powerful tool proven to stop the spread of HIV, hepatitis C, and other deadly diseases.

"In signing this important piece of legislation, Governor Brown reaffirms his commitment to addressing the tremendous health disparities that persist statewide, particularly for people at risk for and living with HIV," said Neil Giuliano, CEO of San Francisco AIDS Foundation.  "We salute Governor Brown for his bold action on this important issue, and for the message he's sending to his peers nationwide – that in tough economic times, investing in disease prevention is the right choice."

HIV and hepatitis C are two of the most commonly transmitted blood-borne diseases among people who share syringes. In California, approximately 750 people are infected with HIV every year from a shared syringe.  The lifetime cost of treating HIV/AIDS is now estimated to exceed $600,000 per patient.

More than 200 studies reviewed by the World Health Organization show that improved syringe access reduces the rate of HIV transmission, without increasing rates of drug use, drug injection, or crime. To date, no study has found otherwise.  San Francisco AIDS Foundation provides more than 2.4 million clean syringes every year.  Its Syringe Access Services program has contributed to an HIV transmission rate via intravenous drug use in San Francisco well below the national average.  

"We see first-hand the health benefits of offering sterile syringes to members of our community in San Francisco," said Courtney Mulhern-Pearson, director of state and local affairs at San Francisco AIDS Foundation.  "Improving legal access to sterile syringes for all Californians will save lives.  By signing this bill into law, Governor Brown has taken a bold step to implement sound, evidence-based health policy that will deliver results."

SB 41 was authored by State Senator Leland Yee.  It was co-sponsored by San Francisco AIDS Foundation and Drug Policy Alliance.

About San Francisco AIDS Foundation
No U.S. city experienced epidemic levels of HIV faster than San Francisco.  At San Francisco AIDS Foundation, we work to end the epidemic where it first took hold, and eventually everywhere. Established in 1982, our mission is the radical reduction of new infections in San Francisco.  Through education, advocacy and direct services for prevention and care, we are confronting HIV in communities most vulnerable to the disease. We refuse to accept that HIV transmission is inevitable.  For more information visit sfaf.org or facebook.com/SFAIDSFoundation.

Contact: Ryan McKeel
(415) 487-3071
rmckeel@sfaf.org

SOURCE San Francisco AIDS Foundation



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