Erectile Disfunction (ED) drugs, such as Viagra, have become increasingly popular. However, there may be a downside to these drugs. People who use ED drugs generally have higher rates of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Are these elevated rates of STDs due to the drugs themselves, the behavior they induce, or are the people who use the drugs more likely to have STDs regardless of ED use. According the Jena et al. (2010), it turns out the answer is the latter.
Users of ED drugs had higher rates of STDs than nonusers the year before initiating ED drug therapy (214 vs. 106 annually per 100,000 persons; P = 0.003) and the year after (105 vs. 65; P = 0.004). After adjustment for age and other comorbid conditions, users of ED drugs had an odds ratio (OR) for an STD of 2.80 (95% CI, 2.10 to 3.75) in the year before initiating drug therapy; the OR was 2.65 (CI, 1.84 to 3.81) in the year after…[In other words], Men who use ED drugs have higher rates of STDs, particularly HIV infection, both in the year before and after use of these drugs. The observed association between ED drug use and STDs may have more to do with the types of patients using ED drugs rather than a direct effect of ED drug availability on STD rates.
The authors conclude that counseling about safe sexual practices and screening for STDs should accompany the prescription of ED drugs.
- Anupam B. Jena, MD, PhD; Dana P. Goldman, PhD; Amee Kamdar, PhD; Darius N. Lakdawalla, PhD; and Yang Lu, PhD. Sexually Transmitted Diseases Among Users of Erectile Dysfunction Drugs: Analysis of Claims Data. Ann Intern Med. 6 July 2010;153(1):1-7