Men taking drugs for sex function risk sex diseases

Mon Jul 5, 2010 5:01pm EDT
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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Men who took erectile dysfunction drugs such as Viagra were more likely to become infected with sexually transmitted diseases, including AIDS, U.S. researchers reported on Monday.

This infection rate was higher even in the year before the men got their prescriptions filled, which suggests the risky behavior came first, the researchers reported in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

The study shows that even middle-aged men need advice about spreading and catching STDs, especially AIDS, which is deadly and incurable, Dr. Anupam Jena of Harvard Medical School in Boston and colleagues wrote.

"Users of ED (erectile dysfunction) drugs had higher rates of HIV, chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis in the 12 months before filling their first ED drug prescription, although only HIV and chlamydia were statistically significant in this period," Jena's team wrote.

"At a minimum, use of ED drugs seems to correlate with higher-risk sexual behavior, either in the number or type of sexual encounters."

Jena and colleagues looked at the health insurance records of 33,968 men with at least one prescription for an ED drug and more than 1 million men without a prescription, searching billing codes for STDs.

Rates of HIV per 100,000 men in the previous year were 66.5 for men who did not get an ED drug but 147.2 for men who did. Rates of chlamydia where almost triple for men who took an ED drug -- 41 per 100,000 compared to 15 per 100,000 for men not using the drugs.

Erectile dysfunction drugs are popular and include Pfizer's Viagra, known generically as sildenafil, vardenafil, sold under the brand name Levitra by GlaxoSmithKline and Eli Lilly and Co's Cialis, known generically as tadalafil.

They all belong to a class called phosphodiesterase-5 inhibitors and they work by increasing blood flow.   Continued...