Injection of Anabolic Steroids in Men Who Had Sex with Men in Madrid and Barcelona: Prevalence Correlates and Role as a Risk Factor for Transmitted Infections

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This study describes the prevalence of anabolic-androgenic steroid (AAS) injection, their main correlates, and the prevalence of specific AAS injection risk behaviours among men who have sex with men (MSM), an area insufficiently addressed in scientific research. Participants were HIV-negative MSM attending four HIV/STI diagnosis services: two clinics and two community programmes in Madrid and Barcelona. Participants answered an online self-administered questionnaire. Crude and adjusted lifetime prevalence and prevalence ratios (PRs) were calculated by different factors and using Poisson regression models with robust variance. Of the 3510 participants, 6.1% (95% CI: 5.3–6.9) had injected AAS before and 3.5% (95% CI: 2.9–4.2) had done so in the last 12 months. In the multivariate analysis, AAS injection was independently associated with being over 40 years old (aPR = 3.6; 95% CI: 2.0–6.5) and being born in Latin America (aPR = 2.5; 95% CI:1.9–3.4), and was less strongly associated (aPRs of around two) with having been recruited into STI clinics, having ever been paid for sex before, injected drugs, used drugs for sex, having been diagnosed with an STI before, and having been diagnosed with HIV at the recruitment consultation. Only three participants, 1.4%, of those who had injected AAS before had shared AAS or equipment for preparation or injecting before. Conclusions: In contrast to drugs, AAS injecting behaviours do not play a relevant, direct role in the transmission of blood-borne infections among MSM. However, AAS injectors have a higher prevalence of sexual risk behaviours. These findings should be confirmed using new studies that employ other sampling procedures.
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