ADHD drugs linked to lower risk of sexually transmitted infection

For many with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), especially among adolescents and young adults, the risk for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) is common.

According to a new study, however, medication taken for the neurodevelopmental disorder, may be beneficial for health-risk behaviors. The findings were published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

Researchers analyzed medical and healthcare information from the Taiwan National Health Insurance Research Database. They studied data of 17,898 adolescents (aged 12-17) and young adults (aged 18-29) with ADHD, in addition to 71,592 ‘age and sex-matched non-ADHD controls’ with no history of STIs.

The data of participants were examined for potential risk of STIs, such as gonorrhea, syphilis, HIV, and chlamydial infection. All participants’ activity was tracked from January 1, 2001, to December 31, 2009.

“Patients with ADHD were prone to developing any STI after adjusting for demographic data, psychiatric comorbidities, and ADHD medications compared with the comparison group. Substance use disorders also were associated with STI risk,” the findings read.

Based on the results, adolescents and young adults diagnosed with ADHD had a greater incidence of any STI, and at a younger age, caught an STI, compared to their counterparts.

Additionally, the findings suggest that adolescents and young adults with ADHD are at a higher risk of comorbidity for another psychiatric disorder, substance use disorders, and disruptive behavior disorder.

Moreover, researchers also found that short-term and long-term ADHD medication in male users significantly lowered the risk of developing an STI.

“Increasing evidence supports an association between ADHD and various health-risk behaviors, such as risky driving, substance abuse, and risky sexual behaviors,” said Mu-Hong Chen, the study’s lead author.

“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.”

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