The following is a press release from an organization unaffiliated with Voice of OC. The views expressed here are not those of Voice of OC.


Media Contact: Jorge Garcia,

Assistant to the City Manager

(714) 586-6321

California Department of Public Health Authorizes the Orange County Needle Exchange Program Despite City of Santa Ana Objections

The City of Santa Ana was informed on July 31, 2018 via a letter that the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), Office of AIDS (OA) has approved the Orange County Needle Exchange Program (OCNEP) to provide needle exchange operations in the County effective August 6, 2018. The authorization was granted over strong objections from the City of Santa Ana. While Santa Ana supports the concept of needle exchange to mitigate the spread of communicable diseases and as a public health tool, the actual implementation experience related to the OCNEP program has been more focused on distribution and less on exchange, resulting in significant syringe litter in areas of distribution. The State-authorized program will now limit distribution to specific locations in the cities of Anaheim, Costa Mesa, Orange and Santa Ana for two days a week in each location.

The City remains deeply concerned about the program, its proximity to Santa Ana schools, and the failure to put in place stronger exchange provisions that would reduce the danger of abandoned syringes. The new authorization does require an independent evaluator to assess syringe litter and report findings to CDPH, OA which could result in additional efforts to address syringe litter.

The City of Santa Ana will be reviewing this authorization and considering its options. The City will continue to monitor the situation, along with the impact and consequences of the authorization with a particular interest in the methodology to be used by the independent evaluator to measure syringe litter impacts to the Santa Ana community.

Residents of Santa Ana who remain concerned about this decision are urged to contact Karen Smith with the California Department of Public Health:

Karen L. Smith, MD, MPH

Director and State Public Health Officer

California Department of Public Health


More information, including a copy of the letter received by the State are available at:

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