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Pumping iron, risking infection? Exposure to hepatitis C, hepatitis B and HIV among anabolic-androgenic steroid injectors in Victoria, Australia.

Aitken C, Delalande C, Stanton K

  • Journal Drug and alcohol dependence

  • Published 23 Apr 2002

  • Volume 65

  • ISSUE 3

  • Pagination 303-8

  • DOI 10.1016/s0376-8716(01)00174-0


To measure exposure to the hepatitis C and B viruses and HIV among Victorian steroid injectors and evaluate associations between exposure and risk behaviour, and report other characteristics of the study group.

Seroprevalence study using a convenience sample.

Victoria, Australia.

Current injectors of illicit anabolic steroids.

Prevalences of exposure to HIV and the hepatitis B and C viruses; associations of characteristics and behaviours with exposure; descriptive statistics for the sample.

Six of 63 blood samples (9.5%) contained hepatitis C virus antibodies; 12.0% tested positive for hepatitis B core antibody; none contained anti-HIV. Hepatitis C virus exposure was associated with heroin injection, imprisonment, sharing needles to inject other drugs, number of tattoos, and hepatitis B virus exposure. No significant differences existed in the steroid-related risk behaviour of exposed and non-exposed individuals. Hepatitis B virus exposure was associated only with hepatitis C virus exposure, past imprisonment and age of first injection.

Exposure to the hepatitis B and C viruses was detected; hepatitis C virus exposure was at much lower prevalence than normally found among other drug injectors. Factors other than steroid injecting were associated with exposure. Nonetheless, the hepatitis C-exposed reported many steroid-related and other risk behaviours which could spread the virus. Steroid injectors should not be neglected in blood-borne virus prevention efforts.