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U.S. News

Feds Probe Viagra Use, Rise in Unsafe Gay Sex

October 19, 2005

A recent conference in Maryland brought health officials together with representatives of impotence drug manufacturers to discuss use of the drugs and their role in increased HIV infections among gay men practicing unsafe sex. Use of PDE5 inhibitors Cialis, Levitra and Viagra is apparently linked to substance abuse among gay men, attendees of the Sept. 26-27 conference organized by the National Institute of Mental Health heard.

A precise relation between STDs and PDE5 inhibitors is unclear, said David Purcell, a senior behavioral scientist at CDC. "We can't say because the information we have comes from studies done for another reason," said Purcell. Those studies only stumbled onto the erectile dysfunction issue. The consensus among conference attendants was that longitudinal studies should be conducted, he said. Data so far are in the form of snapshots.

In addition to impotence, use of PDE5 inhibitors among gay men falls into two categories, said Jeff Klausner, San Francisco Department of Public Health's STD/HIV prevention director. HIV-positive men use the drug to combat the effects of antiretroviral drugs, while some substance abusers also take PDE5 inhibitors, he said.

Klausner said the conference discussed clinical guidelines that would ensure a holistic look at HIV-positive men's health and assess other conditions that could cause impotence. The need for physicians to take a comprehensive sexual history and screen for STDs was also discussed, said Klausner.

A medical diagnosis and physician supervision "are critical to the appropriate use of Viagra and other PDE5 inhibitors," said Daniel Watts, a spokesperson for Pfizer, which makes Viagra. "There is no scientific evidence that PDE5 inhibitor medicines increase the rate of STDs, as noted during the conference. Rather, there are multiple factors at work, including high-risk sexual practices such as unprotected anal sex, sex with multiple partners and the use of recreational drugs, particularly methamphetamine," Watts said.

Back to other news for October 19, 2005

Adapted from:
Washington Blade
10.14.05; Andrew Keegan

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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
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