STEROID users in Wigan are at higher risk of contracting blood borne viruses such as HIV and viral hepatitis, according to a landmark study.
Health experts have also warned that those who use tanning drugs are exposing themselves to the life threatening diseases.
Earlier this year Wigan’s police chief warned that steroid use in the borough was a “hidden problem” because the number of users and extent of the problem in the borough remains unknown to the authorities.
But experts at Public Health England (PHE) state that an increase in the use of image and performance enhancing drugs has grown substantially over the last 20 years.
Jim McVeigh of PHE, who co-authored the report, said: “Injectors of anabolic steroids and associated drugs are now the biggest client group at many needle and syringe programmes in the UK. This research shows that anyone who injects drugs is at risk of HIV and other blood borne viruses, regardless of their substance of choice.
“It is essential that all health services, together with the drug users themselves, are made aware of this and appropriate prevention interventions are developed.”
Researchers from the health authority surveyed 395 men who use image and performance enhancing drugs.
One in 18 have been exposed to hepatitis C, one in 11 to hepatitis B and one in 65 have HIV. Overall one in 10 had been exposed to one or more of the three diseases.
The study showed that those who use steroids are also likely to use psychoactive drugs as part of their lifestyle.
And 46 per cent had snorted cocaine and 12 per cent had snorted or swallowed amphetamines.