Lead author Dr. Anupam B. Jena of Massachusetts General Hospital said when a man has an appointment to get a drug for erectile dysfunction such as sildenafil, better known as Viagra, it is a perfect opportunity for the physician to discuss safe sex.
"Anyone who does not practice safer sex, no matter their age, can contract an STD," Jena said in a statement. "Even though STDs are quite rare among older men -- 1 per 1,000 individuals -- we found that STD rates in men who used erectile dysfunction drugs were two to three times higher than men who didn't use the drug, both before and after they filled their first prescription."
The researchers examined health insurance claims records from 1997 to 2006 from 44 large U.S. employers. Each erectile dysfunction drug user was matched with five non-users randomly selected for the same period.
The study, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, found in the year before and the year after the first prescription, those who used the drug had significantly higher rates of STDs than non-users, with HIV/AIDS the most frequently reported STD in both the users of the drug and the non-users, followed by Chlamydia.