Recreational Use of Viagra Common Nationwide, Could Lead to Increased Incidence of STDs
Many cities nationwide have "subcultures" in which men combine Viagra with "club drugs" such as ecstasy or methamphetamine, leading to possible increases in the incidence of sexually transmitted diseases, the Contra Costa Times reports (Curtis/Mason, Contra Costa Times, 6/24). A study published in this month's issue of the journal AIDS found that 17% of men treated for STDs at San Francisco city health clinics reported using Viagra in the past year, with gay and bisexual men four times more likely than heterosexuals to have used the drug. In addition, the study found that the median age of the men was 32, "suggesting that the men were using Viagra for recreational rather than medical purposes" (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 6/11). Forty-three percent of gay and bisexual men who used Viagra said they mixed the drug with ecstasy, 28% with speed and 15% with poppers, a liquid inhalant that "relaxes muscles and heightens sensation during anal sex." Patricia Case, head of the Program in Urban Health at Harvard University who is studying drug use at clubs for NIH's National Institute on Drug Abuse, said that Viagra use by younger men is "not just something going on at an STD clinic in San Francisco -- this is actually pretty common." Dr. Ronald Valdiserri, the CDC's deputy chief of sexually transmitted diseases, said that Viagra use at clubs needs to be studied more closely as "another possible factor in sexually reckless behavior." A spokesperson for Pfizer Inc., which makes Viagra, said the company markets the drug only to "men 40 and older who suffer from erectile dysfunction" and is opposed to its recreational use (Contra Costa Times, 6/24).This is part of the Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.