Taipei, Taiwan—Short-term or long-term use of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) medication reduce the risk of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) among men by more than 30%.

That’s according to a report in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, which notes that ADHD as much as triples the risk of STIs among adolescent and young-adult populations. It follows then that short- and long-term use of ADHD medication reduced the risk of subsequent STIs among men by 30% and 41%, respectively, according to Taiwanese researchers.

“ADHD is the most common neurodevelopmental disorder, and affects approximately 5%-7% of children and adolescents and 2% of young adults,” explained lead author Mu-Hong Chen, MD, a physician at the Taipei Veterans General Hospital and the College of Medicine, National Yang-Ming University, Taipei. “Increasing evidence supports an association between ADHD and various health-risk behaviors, such as risky driving, substance abuse, and risky sexual behaviors. Clinical psychiatrists [should] focus on the occurrence of risky sexual behaviors and the risk of STIs among patients with ADHD, and emphasize that treatment with ADHD medications may be a protective factor for prevention of STIs.”

The study team used the Taiwan National Health Insurance Research Database to come to that conclusion, focusing on a cohort of nearly 18,000 adolescents and young adults who were diagnosed with ADHD and matching them with more than 70,000 controls without ADHD or STI.

Tracking the group from January 1, 2001 through December 31, 2009, the researchers compiled data related to risk of STIs, including HIV, syphilis, genital warts, gonorrhea, chlamydial infection, and trichomoniasis, psychiatric comorbidity, and pharmacologic treatment for ADHD (methylphenidate or atomoxetine).

Results indicate that adolescents and young adults with ADHD had greater incidence of any STI (1.2% vs. 0.4%), and also developed STIs at a younger age (20.51 ± 4.48 vs. 21.90 ± 4.49) as compared to age- and sex-matched peers.

Overall, adolescents and young adults with ADHD had a higher prevalence of psychiatric comorbidity, including disruptive-behavior disorder (13.5% vs. 0.3%), alcohol-use disorders (1.1% vs. 0.5%), and substance-use disorders (2.5% vs. 0.8%), study authors report.

An association between substance-use disorders and STIs was observed only in women, the article points out. On the other hand, only male short-term (HR 0.70) and long-term (HR 0.59) ADHD medication users had a significantly lower risk of developing any STI during follow-up.

“Adolescents and young adults with ADHD had an increased risk of developing any STI later in life compared with the non-ADHD comparisons,” study authors conclude. “Patients with ADHD who also had substance use disorders were at the highest risk of subsequent STIs. Treatment with ADHD medications was associated with a lower risk of subsequent STIs.”
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