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Drugs Like Viagra Linked to Higher Rates of STDs
Date:7/6/2010

o three times more likely than non-users to have sexually transmitted diseases, and this was true both in the year before and after the first prescription was filled. The most frequently reported STD was HIV/AIDS, followed by chlamydia. The data gathered could not indicate whether ED drug use itself increased STD risk, but Jena said he and his colleagues are investigating that question in a separate study.

Jena speculated that HIV/AIDS was the most frequently reported STD because "the symptoms that are associated with a primary HIV infection are the kinds of things that make men more likely to show up to a doctor, rather than go to a free clinic where they know they can get tested for an STD anonymously."

Use of medication to treat ED has grown significantly since the introduction of sildenafil (Viagra) in 1998, and earlier research has found that men over 50 are much less likely than young men to use condoms, according to background information in the study.

"This study confirms what we've suspected for a while, which is that the men who are using these drugs aren't just those who have erectile dysfunction, but they're also men in high risk groups who take it to enhance sexual activity," said Dr. Peter Leone, a professor of medicine at the University of North Carolina and board chair of the National Coalition of STD Directors. "So it's not that the drug is leading to the behavior. It's really the other way around."

The findings suggest a need for greater responsibility in prescribing ED medications, added Leone. "Doctors need to realize that unless these patients are always using condoms or are in mutually monogamous relationships, they need routine STD screening with repeated follow-ups."

More information

For more on STDs, see the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

SOURCES: Anupam B. Jena, M.D., Ph
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