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Health Experts Discuss Draft Guidelines Recommending Physicians Discuss HIV, STD Prevention With Impotence Drug Users

September 28, 2005

Doctors, pharmaceutical companies and health officials should make efforts to curb the abuse of erectile dysfunction drugs while research is under way to determine whether the drugs are linked with the spread of HIV, especially among men who have sex with men, experts said Tuesday in draft guidelines, according to Reuters AlertNet (Heavey, Reuters AlertNet, 9/27). Officials from FDA, CDC, NIH's National Institute on Drug Abuse and National Institute of Mental Health and drug companies met on Monday and Tuesday to discuss how the use of drugs such as Cialis, Levitra and Viagra might be associated with the spread of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. MSM are more likely to engage in risky sexual behaviors with multiple partners when they combine crystal methamphetamine, an illegal drug that reduces inhibitions, with erectile dysfunction drugs, public health officials say. More than 20 million men in the U.S. use the prescription drugs. Jeffrey Klausner, director of sexually transmitted disease prevention and control at the San Francisco Department of Public Health, said his research has linked erectile dysfunction drugs with risky sexual behavior and an increase in the number of sexually transmitted disease cases in Chicago, Los Angeles and New York (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 9/27).

More Education, Research Needed
Experts at the two-day conference said government agencies should work with drug companies and community groups to educate men about potential risks associated with erectile dysfunction drugs. They also urged the agencies to establish divisions focused on men's health and recommended that doctors provide condoms with prescriptions for such drugs. However, according to Ron Stall, a University of Pittsburgh health professor and former CDC employee, more studies are needed to determine how the drugs might be connected to HIV transmission. "The evidence was not consistent among all studies and ultimately inconclusive," Raymond Rosen, a professor of psychiatry at the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, said. "Without more research, taking action is difficult," Stall said. The final guidelines are expected in about six weeks (Reuters AlertNet, 9/27).

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