Jan 172010
 

What to do when research doesn’t provide the desired results? Conduct another study and change the parameters, of course.

According to the AIDS mantra, penetrative sex without latex is the highest risk behavior for transmission of the HI virus. Yet, a recent study from the University of Florida–a state with a greater than usual interest in the sexual behavior of seniors–claims that chemically induced erections do not lead to this very same risky behavior.

Researchers reviewed data from another study of more than 2,500 aging military veterans being conducted by the National Institutes of Health and the Veterans Health Administration. More than half of those participants are known to test positive on the Gallo antibody test (aka “AIDS” test).

Of the 28% of men who took prescription erectile drugs, such as Viagra and Cialis, ten percent engaged in “unsafe” sexual behavior, which about the same percentage reported among the men not taking drugs.

Despite the headline on the press release announcing the study’s findings: “UF study: Prescribed erectile dysfunction drugs don’t lead to risky sexual behavior”, there were some interesting caveats in the study itself. According to the report’s authors for example:

Men were more likely to engage in risky sexual behavior if they consumed alcohol over recommended amounts, had sex with other men or used cocaine.

This is a pretty important observation, considering the highest risk groups for positivity are MSM (men having sex with men), with drug users a close second. It is hard to understand (no pun intended) how inflating otherwise limp penises could not possibly increase transmission… unless, of course there is a flaw in the sexual transmission theory in the first place.

Back to the motive for conducting this particular study in the first place. The report goes out of its way to diss previous studies showing an increase of “risky” sexual behavior by those taking ED drugs because:

“Previous studies have linked erectile dysfunction drugs to risky sexual behavior, but nearly all of those studies have evaluated the behavior of men who obtained erectile dysfunction drugs without a prescription or were already known to be at high risk, such as men who have sex with men, or men who have substance abuse problems,” said Cook, an associate professor in the department of epidemiology and biostatistics in UF’s College of Public Health and Health Professions.

At about $20 per pill, it is understandable why men interested in ED drugs might bypass their physician and the local pharmacy, especially when they can be purchased online for a fraction of the retail cost.

Suggesting that studies of men “already known to be at high risk” are somehow less relevant also seems pretty disingenuous at best, considering the long-threatened heterosexual AIDS epidemic never materialized.

Look, I’m not all that concerned about whether men take Viagra or not. Hell, I’ve experimented with it myself. What is maddening is how pharmaceutical-based research is conducted and promoted to advance the market share and bottom lines of bigPharma, regardless of the outcome on the public’s health. This particular study just caught my eye as yet another blatant abuse intended to increase the number of prescriptions written by doctors (see screenshot of the Viagra ad on Mayo Clinic’s website below).

Funding sources and potential conflicts of interest were not reported in the press release, but will hopefully be available when it is published in Journal of General Internal Medicine next month.

Viagra for sale at Mayo Clinic

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