Responding to steroid injecting: New report

Australia is at risk of increases in HIV and hepatitis C transmission, Australian experts believe, as rates of illicit steroid injecting go up. A newly released report documents 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 new report details findings from a national consultation on the rise of illicit steroid use in Australia. Led by Dr Kate Seear, the consultation involved interviews with 15 alcohol and other drug experts across Australia. The findings highlight a number of areas of concern. Most importantly, experts believe that Australia is not adequately equipped to deal with the growth in steroid use. Consultation participants point out that we do not know enough about the scale and distribution of steroid use, nor why people appear to be taking up steroids. One participant observed that “the horse has bolted from the stable about 10 years ago, where [use] just really took off”, and that responses were now urgently needed. Other main findings from the consultation include that:

  • Rates of steroid use in Australia are unclear but all agree use appears to be increasing;
  • Some policy, legal and regulatory responses to steroid use in Australia have been implemented too hastily, without sufficient research and in ways that may be counter-productive 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 risks associated with it.

The report also contains recommendations for future research and for strategies to address the rise of illicit steroid use in Australia. The report is intended to inform researchers in the field of alcohol and other drugs, along with policy makers and service providers, advocates, user groups and relevant industries (such as the gym/fitness industry). For a copy of the report please contact Dr Kate Seear: Research team: Dr Kate Seear, Monash University and SSAC adjunct fellow Dr Dean Murphy, Curtin University Professor Suzanne Fraser, SSAC, Curtin University Professor David Moore, Curtin University