Poppers usage could increase a gay mans susceptibility to HIV transmission during unprotected sex, a new UK study has found.

The use of the drug facilitates longer and rougher sex, as well as increasing the body’s uptake of fluids.

The research, published in the online edition of Sexually Transmitted Infections, shows gay men are still the highest risk group in terms of UK HIV infection, with 84% of all new cases in 2005 being the result of gay sex.

The risky behaviour of gay men in the UK is said to be behind the statistic, with 50% reporting having had unprotected sex in the past year.

The re-emergence of syphilis and chlamydia indicate that the sexual health of gay men is a cause for concern.

As regard poppers use, the researchers said:

“The attributable risk of nitrite inhalants to HIV seroconversion among gay men in the UK is high and reduction in their use during HIV serodiscordant unprotected intercourse be adopted as a population level goal/objective by prevention programmes.”

It is not the first time drugs have been blamed for raising HIV infection rates.

Use of crystal meth in the gay community has been blamed in the press for a loss of inhibitions leading to dangerous sexual activity.