With increasing numbers of people across the UK injecting themselves with steroids, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has updated its guideline on the provision of needle and syringe programmes for adults and young people.
Many needle and syringe programmes have reported an increase in the number of steroid users, particularly among men aged 18-25, presenting in the last few years, fuelled by the increasing pressures to look good.
For example, CRI runs 21 needle exchanges in England and in 2010 it saw 290 people who were using steroids. By 2013 that number had increased to 2,161, a rise of 645%.
Research shows that people who inject image and performance enhancing drugs are at an increased risk of blood-borne viruses and bacterial infections – 1.5% have tested positive for HIV.
Public Health England has warned that men who inject anabolic steroids are also at greater risk of developing viral hepatitis.
Needle and syringe programmes aim to stop people sharing potentially contaminated injecting equipment by providing them with sterile needles, syringes and other equipment.
They have successfully helped to limit the spread of infectious blood-borne diseases such as HIV and Hepatitis B and C.
In updated guidance, NICE recommends that commissioners and providers of needle and syringe programmes ensure services provide users of image or performance enhancing drugs with the equipment they need.