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harm reduction

Harm Reduction

Syringe Services Programs for HIV Prevention infographic

Several efforts have been made statewide to increase access to harm reduction services. The CDPH/Office of AIDS (OA) primarily addresses opioid and other health issues for people who use drugs through efforts to build public health services, capacity, and supportive policy for harm reduction programs. Much of the work of the OA Harm Reduction Unit focuses on expansion of syringe services programs (SSPs), which not only provides sterile injection equipment to reduce infectious disease transmission, but serves as drug user health hubs providing a range of other services. These include overdose prevention education and naloxone access, linkage or direct provision of physical and mental health care and substance use disorder treatment, and a variety of social services. CDPH/OA regularly collaborates in this work with the Office of Viral Hepatitis Prevention, Injury and Violence Prevention Branch and Sexually Transmitted Disease Control Branch, as well as the Department of Health Care Services. 

A directory of syringe programs in California that provide clean syringes, needles, etc. These services help prevent the spread of infectious diseases including HIV, Hepatitis C, etc. and other helpful Harm Reduction Resources (PDF)

Syringe Services Programs

Syringe Services Programs (SSPs) are a critical component in harm reduction. SSPs provide sterile syringes, act as syringe disposal sites, education, and support services to the public, including connection to treatment. The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) works closely with SSPs to improve the health and wellbeing of those who inject drugs, including providing free fentanyl test strips and naloxone to SSPs throughout the state. CDPH also works with the Center for Health Leadership and Practice and The Harm Reduction Coalition to  identify ways to help local opioid coalitions integrate harm reduction approaches into their work.

Safe Disposal and Drug Take Back Programs


The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas program aims to prevent harm (overdose) by educating and supporting local law enforcement to reduce drug trafficking and production. The DEA also has a drug disposal locator on their website so the public knows where to safely dispose of unused or expired prescription drugs.

The Board of Pharmacy also notes that pharmacies may offer two types of drug take-back services: on-site collection bins and/or envelopes for mailing back unused medications. To find out if your pharmacy or one near you offers drug collection bins or mail-back envelopes visit the Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) page on Where to Dispose of Unused Medications

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