Grows Popular in Clubs
Since Viagra came out four years ago, millions of men have embraced it, but now the impotence drug is increasingly turning up on the club scene, where young men are mixing it with the drug ecstasy to rev up for sex.
Clubgoers call a combination of the two drugs "sextasy" because it heightens their sexual experience. But health experts say the two drugs are a dangerous mix. Doctors warn the combo can cause heart problems and open the door to sexually transmitted diseases.
"Ecstasy is a dis-inhibitor, so it often leads to risky sexual behavior, which in turn increases the risk of sexually transmitted diseases, which is why some big cities are seeing an increase in HIV, herpes and syphilis," Laura Berman, a sex therapist told Good Morning America.
Those most at risk seem to be club-goers, both homosexual and heterosexual men. It has not yet been found to be popular among teens, she said.
Warnings Began Last YearA study that came out last year at the Centers for Disease Control HIV Prevention conference warned that large numbers of gay men, and a smaller number of heterosexual drug users, were beginning to combine Viagra with club drugs such as ecstasy, ketamine, amphetamines, GHB, and amyl nitrates or "poppers" to heighten their sexual experience.
One study by San Francisco epidemiologist Andrea Kim revealed that nearly a third of gay men surveyed at sexually transmitted disease clinics were using the anti-impotence drug Viagra, often in combination with illegal drugs that encourage risky behavior.
AIDS experts were already concerned about complacency in regards to condom use because of the effective AIDS drugs on the market. Now, they are similarly concerned that Viagra-ecstasy combinations may also be prompting people to let down their guards.
Now health officials are hearing about such combinations even more. The Viagra-ecstasy mixture is popular because the Viagra helps to counteract the other drug's side effect, which is impotence, said Dr. Jennifer Berman.
"Viagra can lead to prolonged erections, which can cause anatomical damage," Laura Berman said. "There is also the brain damage we have seen caused by ecstasy alone."
Combining drugs is nothing new, but now these drug cocktails are coming out more in the open, she said.
One of the problems is that Viagra is readily available. It is supposed to be available only by prescription, after a doctor's consultation, at a cost of $8 to $10 a pill. But it is often available in clubs and through other methods.
"It is extremely easy to get over Internet," Jennifer Berman said. "All you have to do is simply fill out a form. At some parties, you'll find bowls filled with Viagra, as party favors."
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Sextasy : MDMA/Ecstasy plus Viagra