Objective: To examine the use and correlates of the use of prescription drugs that may affect sexual behavior among HIV-positive gay and bisexual men.
Methods: In a cross-sectional assessment of baseline data from a behavioral intervention, we recruited 1168 HIV-positive gay and bisexual men in 2000-2001 from community venues in New York City and San Francisco, and determined the point prevalence of the use of viagra, testosterone, and antidepressants. We examined bivariate and multivariate associations between the use of each drug and demographics, health status, substance use, psychological symptoms, and sexual risk.
Results: The current use of antidepressants was 21%, testosterone 19%, and viagra 12%. Some viagra users reported using drugs that could interact dangerously with viagra. The use of viagra, testosterone, or antidepressants was related to unprotected receptive anal intercourse and unprotected insertive oral intercourse (UIOI) with both HIV-positive and HIV-negative/unknown-status casual partners. The use of viagra was also associated with unprotected insertive anal intercourse. In multivariate models, viagra use was associated with being older, more educated, using ketamine, and engaging in UIOI with HIV-negative/unknown-status casual partners. Testosterone use was associated with being more educated and using nitrites (poppers). Antidepressant use was associated with race, using poppers, and being more depressed.
Conclusion: Prescription medications used by HIV-positive men can have unintended negative effects such as drug interactions or associations with risky sexual behavior, particularly a drug such as viagra that is fast acting, short lasting, and provides a desirable effect. Physicians should discuss these issues with patients when prescribing, and interventions should address these challenges.