Taking Viagra Won't Spur Risky Sexual Behavior

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 13 (HealthDay News) -- Men worried that taking Viagra will lead to sexually risky behavior can relax: A new study suggests that drugs for erectile dysfunction don't make men more likely to engage in potentially unhealthy sex.

"For this study we took the perspective of a doctor who may worry that prescribing erectile-dysfunction drugs to patients could contribute to the spread of HIV. The findings from this study should provide some reassurance to health-care providers that erectile-dysfunction drugs appear to be prescribed responsibly and used responsibly," Dr. Robert Cook, an associate professor at the University of Florida and lead researcher of the new study, said in a news release.

Cook noted that this study is unique because, unlike previous studies, it didn't focus on men who obtained the medication without a prescription, had sex with men or had substance abuse problems.

"In this study we looked at erectile-dysfunction drugs and sexual behavior in the context of routine health care for a group of men who are more representative of the general population," Cook said.

By the study's definition, risky sexual behavior is unprotected sex with someone whose HIV status is opposite -- positive if you're negative or the reverse -- or not known.

The researchers examined data from 2,787 men, average age 52, who were taking part in a study about aging veterans. About half were HIV-positive.

According to the study findings, 28 percent of the men used erectile-dysfunction drugs over a one-year period. About 10 percent of the men in two groups -- those who did use the drugs and those who didn't -- reported behavior defined as sexually risky.

The study is published in the February issue of the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

-- Randy Dotinga

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SOURCE: University of Florida Health Science Center, news release, Jan. 12, 2010