Abstract: Examining the Impact of COVID-19 on Sexual Contact, Comfort Attending Sexual Venues, and Sexual Safety Practices in a Global Sample of Gay, Bisexual, and Other Men Who Have Sex with Men (Society for Social Work and Research 27th Annual Conference - Social Work Science and Complex Problems: Battling Inequities + Building Solutions)

All in-person and virtual presentations are in Mountain Standard Time Zone (MST).

SSWR 2023 Poster Gallery: as a registered in-person and virtual attendee, you have access to the virtual Poster Gallery which includes only the posters that elected to present virtually. The rest of the posters are presented in-person in the Poster/Exhibit Hall located in Phoenix A/B, 3rd floor. The access to the Poster Gallery will be available via the virtual conference platform the week of January 9. You will receive an email with instructions how to access the virtual conference platform.

102P Examining the Impact of COVID-19 on Sexual Contact, Comfort Attending Sexual Venues, and Sexual Safety Practices in a Global Sample of Gay, Bisexual, and Other Men Who Have Sex with Men

Thursday, January 12, 2023
Phoenix C, 3rd Level (Sheraton Phoenix Downtown)
* noted as presenting author
Juan Jauregui, MPH, MSW, Doctoral Student, UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs
Alex Garner, Director of Community Engagement, MPact Global
Chenglin Hong, MSW, MPH, PhD Student, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, WA
Sean Howell, Co-Founder, Hornet
Ian W. Holloway, PhD, Professor, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA
Background and Purpose: The COVID-19 pandemic has drastically impacted the day-to-day lives of communities across the globe. Gay social and sexual venues are opportunities for HIV prevention engagement with gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (GBMSM), however, many of these venues faced closure and other operational restrictions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The present study seeks to assess the degree to which GBMSM felt comfortable attending social/sexual venues during the pandemic, sexual practices during the pandemic, and barriers to HIV prevention resources to help inform public health practice.

Methods: Data for this study come from a cross-sectional survey implemented by Hornet, a popular gay social-networking app among GBMSM. Hornet users were invited to participate in an online survey related to the impact of COVID-19 on diverse health-related outcomes in August 2020. Descriptive analyses characterize GBMSM’s comfort attending social/sexual venues and engaging in sexual contact during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and logistic regression analyses describe correlates of sexual contact during the pandemic.

Results: A total of 15,499 participants from 132 countries were included in these analyses. At the time of being surveyed, over half (64.8%) had physical sexual contact with a partner they met on a gay social networking app since the COVID-19 crisis began. Relative to those who had not had a COVID-19 test, those who did were 1.2 times more likely to report sexual contact. Relative to those who tested negative for COVID, those who tested positive were 1.3 times more likely to have sexual contact. Almost half (45.2%) of GBMSM who had sexual contact reported feeling comfortable going to a bar now. Related to HIV prevention, 12.13% reported having no or less access to condoms and/or lubricants during the COVID-19 crisis, and 1.4% of those who have ever taken PrEP stopped due to COVID.

Conclusions and Implications: Sexual partnerships forged online have continued among GBMSM during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our data shows that there is a need for ongoing attention to HIV prevention focused on social and sexual venues GBMSM frequent. Additionally, geosocial networking applications may be leveraged to reach users with COVID-19 vaccine and testing information.