September 26, 2020 The Newspaper Serving LGBT Los Angeles

6 in 10 Queer Men With COVID Symptoms Hide Them From Partners

COVID 19 is affecting everything from businesses to government and now it is taking a toll on people’s sex lives. Gay and bi men are reporting “significant changes” in their sex lives during the health crisis. In fact, nine out of 10 had no sex or sex with only one other partner in the past month. 

The survey collected responses from 1,968 LGBTQ+ Americans over 18 from April 10 to May 10. Gay and bi men made up 750 of the respondents and were recruited via Facebook, Twitter, and Grindr.

The survey concluded that in the first month of the pandemic, more than half of queer male respondents (59 percent) had no sex at all. Of those who were sexually active, 78 percent limited their number of partners to one. To put this in context, one in five men reported usually having more than one sexual partner in a month.

Additionally, while about 35 percent engaged in masturbation, 12 percent abstained from solo sex, citing stress as inhibiting their sex drive.

The study noted that there are many reasons LGBTQ+ people may be at “greater risk of severe disease if they are infected with COVID-19,” despite the fact that “little attention has been paid to disparities by sexual orientation and gender identity” in the crisis. Factors include disparities in income, access to health care, HIV, and “different social norms around relationships and sexual contact patterns that may increase their risk of exposure.”

Nondisclosure of COVID-19 symptoms was a major concern among gay and bi respondents, the study stressed. These fears are warranted. While 11 percent reported having a flu-like illness in the prior month, only 39 percent of those with symptoms disclosed this information or a positive diagnosis to partners.

To address these concerns, the study recommended more “targeted messaging” around how to have conversations about COVID-19 symptoms and safer sex strategies. It also called for more research into the impact of the novel coronavirus on those living with HIV. 

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