Media Release: Australia at risk of significant increases in HIV and hepatitis C transmission as rates of illicit steroid injecting go up: new research
Australia is at risk of significant increases in HIV and hepatitis C transmission, Australian experts believe, as rates of illicit steroid injecting go up. A new report documents serious concern among alcohol and other drug workers and policy makers that Australia does not know enough about the practice and may fail to prevent new blood-borne virus epidemics among people who inject steroids.
The report details findings from consultations with senior alcohol and other drug experts across Australia. A common theme in their responses was the belief that Australia is not adequately equipped to deal with the growing problem of steroid use.
Many participants in the research conducted for the report caution that we do not really know how big the problem of illicit steroid use is in Australia, nor why people appear to be taking it up. One expert observed that “the horse bolted from the stable about 10 years ago, when [use] just really took off”, and that an urgent response was now required.
Other key findings from the consultation:
- Rates of steroid use in Australia are unclear but use appears to be increasing;
- Some policy, legal and regulatory responses to steroid use in Australia have been implemented too hastily, without sufficient evidence and in ways that may be counterproductive to harm reduction.
- There is a lack of fit between research, policymaking and service provision in relation to steroid use in Australia;
- Much more research is needed to better understand this emerging phenomenon, including the harms and risks associated with it.
Containing recommendations for strategies to address the rise of illicit steroid use in Australia, the report will inform policy, service provision, and relevant industries (such as the gym/fitness industry).
The consultation was undertaken by researchers from the National Drug Research Institute at Curtin University and Monash University.
A full copy of the report is available at: www.addictionconcepts.com