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Study finds higher STD rates among ED drug users

Physicians who prescribe erectile dysfunction drugs should be sure to discuss the importance of safer sex practices, even with older men, researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston advise.

The researchers, who collaborated with co-authors from the University of Southern California, Los Angeles; University of Chicago Booth Graduate School of Business; and RAND Corp., Santa Monica, CA; found that men who use ED drugs have higher rates of sexually transmitted diseases.

"Anyone who does not practice safer sex, no matter their age, can contract an STD," said lead author Anupam B. Jena, MD, PhD, of Massachusetts General. "Even though STDs are quite rare among older men, we found that STD rates in men who used ED drugs were two to three times higher, both before and after they filled their first prescription."

In the study, researchers examined health insurance claims records covering 1997 though 2006 from 44 large U.S. employers. In both the year before and the year after the first ED drug prescription, users had significantly higher rates of STDs than nonusers did in matching time periods. HIV/AIDS was the most frequently reported STD in both groups, followed by chlamydia.

Since the prevalence of STDs did not markedly change after ED drug therapy began, the authors note that the difference between groups probably reflects higher-risk sexual practices among users of the drugs.

Results from the study were published in the Annals of Internal Medicine (2010; 153:1-7).

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