ResearchPublications

Sex in the time of COVID-19: Patterns of sexual behavior among LGBTQ+ individuals in the U.S.
Abstract

The SARS-CoV-2 virus, the pathogen which causes COVID-19, has left an indelible impact on the daily lives of individuals in the USA. This study sought to explore the sexual behaviors among people in the LGBTQ+ population at the onset of the pandemic. Behaviors were explored across sub-groups of the population. The study employed data from an internet survey about the impact of COVID-19 on LGBTQ+ identified individuals conducted between May and July 2020. The final sample was comprised of 1090 participants from across the USA. Overall, sexual activity and the number of sexual partners decreased after March 13, 2020 (as compared to before this date) across all sexual orientation groups; however, living situation and partnership status supported sexual activity. Gay and bisexual men living with a partner or a spouse (AOR = 2.20, p = .023) and those living with a non-romantic roommate or friend (AOR = 2.88, p = .004) reported more sexual activity. For both cisgender lesbian and bisexual women and transgender and non-binary individuals, those who were married or in a domestic partnership (AOR = 4.54, p < .001; AOR = 9.97, p < .001, respectively) and those in a committed relationship (AOR = 3.54, p = .001; AOR = 8.46, p < .001, respectively) reported more sexual activity. Additionally, cisgender lesbian and bisexual women living with their partner or spouse (AOR = 2.14, p = .044) reported more sexual activity. When examining the number of sexual partners, cisgender lesbian and bisexual women and transgender and non-binary individuals in a committed relationship (AOR = 0.31, p < 0.001; AOR = 0.26, p = .004, respectively) and those living with a partner or spouse (AOR = 0.30, p = .002; AOR = 0.25, p = .028, respectively) were less likely to report two or more sexual partners. Examining the changes in sexual activity and number of sexual partners helps us better identify the effects of COVID-19 on intimate relationships and sexual behaviors. Furthermore, this study may help develop clinical best practices to facilitate risk-reduction strategies for LGBTQ+ populations when engaging in sexual activity within a communicable disease framework. Current guidance on sexual activity within a pandemic has created a unique opportunity for sex-positive public health messaging that protects individual health while also offering a framework for conversations about risk mitigation that is applicable for both COVID-19 and STI/HIV prevention.

Download PDF

Full citation:
Griffin M, Jaiswal J, Martino RJ, LoSchiavo C, Comer-Carruthers C, Krause KD, Stults CB, Halkitis PN (2022).
Sex in the time of COVID-19: Patterns of sexual behavior among LGBTQ+ individuals in the U.S.
Archives of Sexual Behavior, 51 (1), 287-301. doi: 10.1007/s10508-022-02298-4.