Gay men should beware of the dangers associated with Viagra according to one researcher, following a study of gay men in Sydney that indicated a perception that the drug aids safe-sex practices.

Professor Martin Holt of the National Centre in HIV Social Research has warned that men may be taking an all too rosy view of sexuopharmaceutical drugs like Viagra, in a paper entitled Medicine, Risk Factor, Pleasure Enhancer Or Safe Sex Aid? The Use Of Viagra And Other Sexuopharmaceuticals By Gay Men, presented at the recent ASHM conference.

The research, based on interviews with 31 men, shows a general perception that Viagra aids in the process of condom use and safe sex -” an idea which could be dangerous, Holt says.

If there is a common belief that Viagra is benign, helpful and assists men in practising safe sex, and there is little awareness that it can of course enable unsafe sex too, then that suggests a need for education, Holt told the Sydney Star Observer.

A pill isn’t going to make you use a condom -” you still need to do that yourself.

The risk of contracting HIV could also be increased if men are using Viagra to counteract the effects of other illicit substances.

The main concern is about men who use Viagra when they are intoxicated. If their judgment is clouded and they are having sex for extended periods of time because of stamina-enhancing drugs, then Viagra does not necessarily make sexual negotiation easier -” it means men need to be vigilant about what they’re getting up to for longer periods of time, and have more condoms and lube available, Holt said.

He also highlighted the risks associated with mixing Viagra with other drugs, particularly amyl and poppers, which can cause sudden drops in blood pressure.

Coming into the party season, men should think about how they can party safely and protect themselves and their partners while doing so. The safest strategy is to avoid using these drugs altogether. However, if you plan to use Viagra, sensible precautions would be to know your limits and have plenty of condoms and lube available.

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