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article imageStudy: Erectile dysfunction drugs linked to higher rates of STDs

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By Laura Trowbridge     Jul 7, 2010 in Health
A new study of more than 1.4 million men over the age of 40 has found that those who take ED drugs are more likely to have sexually transmitted diseases. Men using an ED drug were two to three times more likely than non-users to have STDs.
According to Yahoo News, researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital and the University of Southern California say the STD's are not from using the drugs, but are a result of high-risk behaviors of the men who use the erectile dysfunction (ED) drugs. They said doctors should counsel these patients about safe sex practices.
The report, published in the July 6 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine, is said to be the "first study to examine the relationship between ED drugs and STD risk in a large, representative sample of privately insured older men." The researchers were unaware of how many of the men in the study were bisexual or homosexual.
The author of the study Dr. Anupam B. Jena said: "Primary care doctors don't usually talk to older men about safe sexual practices, and that's partly because rates of STDs are much lower in this group than in younger men, on the order of one per 1,000 individuals. But what our findings suggest is that just by virtue of asking for an ED drug, these men are identifying themselves as being at two to three times higher risk of STDs."
In the study, men who had been prescribed an ED drug were two to three times more likely than non-users of these drugs to have sexually transmitted diseases. But this was found to be true in both the year before and after the first ED 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."
Background information used in the study showed earlier research had found men over the age of 50 are much less likely to use condoms than younger men.
"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. "So it's not that the drug is leading to the behavior. It's really the other way around.
"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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