Men's Health: Erectile Dysfunction Drugs Linked to Higher Rates of STDs

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Podcast: Men’s Health September 2010

Welcome to this month’s Men’s Health podcast. Our topic is “Erectile Dysfunction Drugs Linked to Higher Rates of STDs.”
Sexually transmitted diseases are a concern for middle-aged and older men who take erectile dysfunction drugs such as Viagra.
Erectile dysfunction is also referred to as ED.
The problem is not the drugs but rather the high risk behaviors of the men who request them. 
Doctors should counsel these patients about safe sex practices, the researchers say in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
Small studies of men who have sex with other men have linked the use of ED drugs with higher risk behaviors and increased rates of STDs.
The new report is said to be the first to look at the relationship between ED drugs and STD risk in a large, broad sample of privately insured older men.
Study author Dr. Anupam Jena says primary care doctors don't usually talk to older men about safe sexual practices. That's partly because rates of STDs are much lower in this group than in younger men.
Dr. Jena and his team reviewed health insurance claims records for 34,000 males over 40 who used ED drugs. The records covered one year before and one year after the first prescription was filled.
It also looked at nearly 1.4 million men over 40 who were non-users for comparison.
Men who had been prescribed an ED drug were two to three times more likely than non-users to have sexually transmitted diseases.
The most reported STD was HIV/AIDS, followed by chlamydia.
Use of meds to treat ED has grown a great deal since sildenafil, known as Viagra, came on the market.
Expert Dr. Peter Leone says this study confirms what has been suspected for a while.
He says men are using the drugs not just for erectile dysfunction, but also to enhance their sexual activity.
He says 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.
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