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NEW REPORT: Gay Men Using Steroids, Tanning Agents & Other Drugs May Raise HIV Numbers

By David Artavia

The National AIDS Trust, the U.K.'s leading charity dedicated to transforming society's response to HIV, has reported a significant increase in the number of gay men injecting image- and performance-enhancing drugs, such as steroids or tanning agents, which might lead to higher levels of HIV infections. Rates of other drug use — mostly meth, mephedrone, or GHB/GBL — are also rising and adding to the HIV concerns.

According to the report, 55% of the men didn't know that HIV can be transmitted by injecting equipment, like needles. In addition, in the recent study, 85% of gay men in London claimed to have used either crystal meth, mephedrone, or GHB/GBL, compared to only 3% in 2005.

These newer drugs are showing to be increasing within the younger gay community, and a lot of whom may not understand safe injecting practices. There is research to show that men who inject steroids, in particular, have especially elevated HIV and hepatitis rates.

Researchers said that people with HIV who inject drugs have a death rate 20 times higher than the average person. Last year, the U.K. government spoke about  moving drug users on to Opioid Substitution Therapy, which can significantly reduce the numbers of people using recreational drugs, but then made no further actions on it. In the report, National AIDS Trust calls the government on it's bluff, demanding change that was promised before and urging leaders to deal with the high death rates among drug users.

Yusef Azad, Director of Policy and Campaigns at NAT, said, "If newer communities are starting to inject drugs, there is an urgent task to ensure health promotion and harm reduction messages reach these groups. Otherwise there will be new transmissions of HIV and hepatitis B and C."

Read the full report here.

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