Understanding performance and image enhancing drug injecting in Australia

December 2016

Professor Suzanne Fraser (Lead Investigator)
Professor David Moore

Other investigators: 

Dr Kate Seear, Monash University
Dr Campbell Aitken, Burnet Institute
Ms Kay Stanton, Darebin Community Health

Project description: 

This ARC-funded project will investigate the social practices associated with men’s use of performance and image enhancing drugs (PIEDs) in Australia, to better understand who takes them, when, why and how, and to create new knowledge on the health information needs of men who inject PIEDs. PIED use is increasing in Australia and can be associated with serious health issues, including hepatitis C transmission where injection occurs. However, little is currently known about PIED injecting, and Australia’s harm reduction framework is unprepared to meet the challenges it poses. This project expects to directly inform policy and practice, aiming to help minimise hepatitis C transmission among men who inject PIEDs. In the process the project will illuminate contemporary practices of masculinity through PIED use as they play out in relation to sexuality, ethnicity, age and other issues.

This project builds on preliminary research on PIED use conducted via a health sector consultation. The consultation report Understanding and responding to the rise of steroid injecting in Australia was published in 2016.

According to lead investigator, Professor Suzanne Fraser,

We don’t yet know a great deal about men’s use of PIEDs in Australia. Any kind of injecting drug use tends to be hidden because of its association with addiction and negative ideas about drug use per se, and PIED injecting is no different. This project will draw on the team’s expertise in the social and political dynamics of drug use, contemporary reconceptualisations of stigma concepts, and gender theory, to carefully analyse the diverse dataset of in-depth interviews we will collect. The result should be highly detailed new knowledge about this important but very understudied issue.