This is a summary, written by members of the CITF Secretariat, of:

Daroya E, Greya C, Lessard D, Klassen B, Skakoon-Sparling S, Gaspar M, Perez-Brumer A, Adam B, Lachowsky NJ, Moore D, Sang JM, Lambert G, Hart TA, Cox J, Jollimore J, Tan DHS, Grace D. ‘I did not have sex outside of our bubble’: Changes in Sexual Practices and Risk Reduction Strategies among Sexual Minority Men in Canada during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Culture, Health, and Sexuality. 2022 November. DOI: 10.1080/13691058.2022.2139414.

The results and/or conclusions contained in the research do not necessarily reflect the views of all CITF members.

In a CITF-funded study published in Culture, Health, and Sexuality, Dr. Daniel Grace (University of Toronto) and his team addressed how public health measures implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic impacted the sexual practices of gay, bisexual, queer, and other sexual minority men. Most participants in the study described how they took up  public health measures and adjusted their sexual behavior accordingly. By using their knowledge of HIV and sexually transmitted infection (STI) prevention measures and existing COVID-19 guidelines, many participants described adapting their behavior to continue engaging in sexual activity while helping to protect their own safety.

Key findings:

  • Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, about a quarter of participants reported temporarily abstaining from sex and avoiding sexual contact.
  • One-third of participants described that while they were in an open relationship they were engaging in temporary monogamy.
  • Over 40% of participants, however, reported continuing in-person sexual relations. Among those, some restricted their activity to regular partners, as opposed to casual sexual partnerships.
  • Participants’ sexual practices evolved with the epidemiological context and public health measures, particularly COVID-19 vaccination. For instance, partner screening based on vaccination status appeared to be fairly common since the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines. Some men described how they kept track of local COVID-19 cases and variants of concern, wore masks, or had sex remotely (virtually) and outdoors.

Participants in the study were recruited from the Engage Cohort Study, a Canadian collaboration of researchers and community-based organizations on HIV and sexual health among gay, bisexual, queer, and other sexual minority men. Researchers interviewed a total of 93 sexual minority men in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver, either between November 2020 and February 2021 (42 participants) or between June and October 2021 (51 participants). COVID-19 vaccines became widely available during the second round of interviews.

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