HIV, gay men and drug use: ASTRA study and comment in The Lancet HIV

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ASTRA logoA research group I am involved with has just had a paper published in the new online publication The Lancet HIV. This paper is available free in full. [1]

This is interesting for compiling results from one of the biggest surveys in HIV positive people and this paper has a focus on recreational drug use. It also looks at sexual behaviour and HIV risks in HIV positive gay men and reports very low behavioural risk for further transmission (only 7% of men).

It is also notable that the editorial comment for the study picked up on this as a responsible way to interpret these results. The comment article – also free online – is a non-technical summary and a good place to start. [2]

The ASTRA team are a great group to work with – they have included community advocates from the beginning of the study. This includes actively contributing to these papers, the conference presentations and the way the data is interpeted.

I first reported these results in HTB about a year ago when they were presented at the 14th EACS conference in Brussels. [3]

This highlights how important conferences are for early access to study results. Seeing the full published results is just as important however, and journals that make full content available are essential. This is publicly funded research and access to the full results should not be restricted to paying for a journal subscription.

For further details on the ASTRA study, including other publications, see the study website. [4]


  1. Recreational drug use, polydrug use, and sexual behaviour in HIV-diagnosed men who have sex with men in the UK: results from the cross-sectional ASTRA study
  2. Sex, drugs, and HIV: let’s avoid panic. Editorial comment by Martin Holt.
  3. Recreational drug use is common in HIV positive gay men and is extensive in a significant minority.
  4. ASTRA study website


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