Sexually Transmitted Diseases Sky Rocket for Viagra-Poppers

CBS

(CBS) Something is on the rise for men who take erectile dysfunction drugs and it's not what you think.

A new study of men over 40 found that the rate of sexually transmitted disease was nearly three times as high for those taking medications to enhance their love lives.

Risky behavior, not the pills, is to blame, say researchers.

"We are typically unaccustomed to practice safe sex over the age of 50, because the risk of pregnancy is eliminated," study lead author Dr. Anupam B. Jena of Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston told Reuters Health.

The study, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, followed 1,410,806 middle aged and older men, some of whom used erectile dysfunction drugs such as Viagra, Cialis, and Levitra, and some who didn't.

Researchers found that although there were higher rates of infection among men taking the erectile dysfunction drugs, no direct correlation could be found. Those men had higher rates both before and after they started taking the medication.

That, researchers say, seems to indicate that men who take these drugs are more inclined towards risky behavior. And the problem is growing fast, they say.

"Younger adults have far more STDs than older adults, but the rates are growing at far higher rates in older adults," Dr. Jena told Reuters.

People over 50 now account for 15 percent of new HIV/AIDS cases according to 2005 data from the CDC, which says 24 percent of people living with the disease are 50 or older.

What's the solution? Doctors should be sure to talk to patients about safe sex when writing out that ED prescription, researchers say. Hopefully, that will get a rise out of them, in a good way.

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