Health care providers may be concerned that prescribing erectile dysfunction drugs (EDD) will contribute to risky sexual behavior.
To identify characteristics of men who received EDD prescriptions, determine whether EDD receipt is associated with risky sexual behavior and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), and determine whether these relationships vary for certain sub-groups.
Two thousand seven hundred and eighty-seven sexually-active, HIV-infected and HIV-uninfected men recruited from eight Veterans Health Affairs outpatient clinics. Data were obtained from participant surveys, electronic medical records, and administrative pharmacy data.
EDD receipt was defined as two or more prescriptions for an EDD, risky sex as having unprotected sex with a partner of serodiscordant or unknown HIV status, and STDs, according to self-report.
Overall, 28% of men received EDD in the previous year. Eleven percent of men reported unprotected sex with a serodiscordant/unknown partner in the past year (HIV-infected 15%, HIV-uninfected 6%, P < 0.001). Compared to men who did not receive EDD, men who received EDD were equally likely to report risky sexual behavior (11% vs. 10%, p = 0.9) and STDs (7% vs 7%, p = 0.7). In multivariate analyses, EDD receipt was not significantly associated with risky sexual behavior or STDs in the entire sample or in subgroups of substance users or men who had sex with men.
EDD receipt was common but not associated with risky sexual behavior or STDs in this sample of HIV-infected and uninfected men. However, risky sexual behaviors persist in a minority of HIV-infected men, indicating ongoing need for prevention interventions.