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Study: One-Quarter of UK Gay, Bi Men Had Casual Sex During Lockdown

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A new study finds many, but not all, queer men abstained during the early months of the pandemic.

A new study of nearly 1,400 gay and bisexual men in Britain found 24 percent had casual sex during the national COVID-19 lockdown, specifically in late April and early May.

The research, compiled by the University of Westminster, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and reported by AIDS Map, indicate that many gay and bi men stopped having casual sex during the quarantine (socializing with people living outside your residence was actually illegal at the time). About two-thirds of participants were single, while 8 percent were in a monogamous relationship and 16 percent were reportedly in an open partnership or marriage.

Research also showed that two-thirds of PrEP users questioned stopped using the preventative HIV regimen during late April and early May. Most respondents said their celibacy was the reason for going off PrEP, rather than an inability to obtain the medication. Thirty percent of respondents reported being on PrEP as the pandemic took hold.

Participants in the study were also asked how long they could go without casual sex and 57 percent answered they could abstain up to six months; 30 percent said three months.

“As social restrictions ease, it is highly likely that increasing numbers of men who have sex with men will re-initiate sexual activity with casual partners,” said Dr Charlie Witzel of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, according to AIDS Map. “Our research shows we're nearing the time-point when many felt their ability to abstain would decrease. Criminalisation of sex, while being unenforceable practically, may also prevent people from accessing sexual health care during the pandemic.”

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Neal Broverman

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Ryan is the Digital Director of The Advocate Channel, and a graduate of NYU Tisch's Department of Dramatic Writing. She is also a member of GALECA, the LGBTQ+ society of entertainment critics. While her specialties are television writing and comedy, Ryan is a young member of the LGBTQ+ community passionate about politics and advocating for all.

Ryan is the Digital Director of The Advocate Channel, and a graduate of NYU Tisch's Department of Dramatic Writing. She is also a member of GALECA, the LGBTQ+ society of entertainment critics. While her specialties are television writing and comedy, Ryan is a young member of the LGBTQ+ community passionate about politics and advocating for all.