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Difficulty accessing condoms because of the COVID-19 pandemic reported by gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men in the UK: findings from a large, cross-sectional, online survey

Brown, Jack Rg; Reid, David; Howarth, Alison R; Mohammed, Hamish; Saunders, John; Pulford, Caisey V; Ogaz, Dana; ... Mercer, Catherine H; + view all (2023) Difficulty accessing condoms because of the COVID-19 pandemic reported by gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men in the UK: findings from a large, cross-sectional, online survey. International Journal of STD & AIDS 10.1177/09564624231160804. (In press). Green open access

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Abstract

BACKGROUND: COVID-19 restrictions severely reduced face-to-face sexual health services, an important access point for condoms. We examine whether gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (GBMSM) in the UK had difficulty accessing condoms during the first year of the pandemic, and if so, which groups were most affected. METHODS: Questions about difficulty accessing condoms were asked as part of a short, online cross-sectional survey of GBMSM undertaken November/December 2021, recruited via social media and Grindr. Eligible participants were UK-resident GBMSM (cis/trans/gender-diverse person assigned male at birth [AMAB]), aged ≥16 years who were sexually active (reported sex with men in the last year). Multivariable logistic regression was used to examine if and how reporting this outcome varied by key sociodemographic, health and behavioural factors independent of the potential confounding effect of numbers of new male sex partners. RESULTS: Of all participants (N = 1039), 7.4% (n = 77) reported difficulty accessing condoms due to the pandemic. This was higher among younger GBMSM (aged 16-29 years vs. ≥45; 12.8% vs. 4.9%; aOR: 2.78); trans/gender-diverse AMAB participants (vs. cis gender males; 24.4% vs. 6.6%; aOR = 4.86); bisexually-identifying participants (vs. gay-identifying; 11.1% vs. 6.5%; aOR = 1.78); and those without degree level education (vs. having a degree; 9.8% vs. 5.6%; aOR = 2.01). CONCLUSIONS: A minority of sexually active GBMSM reported difficulty accessing condoms because of the pandemic, however, this was more common amongst those who already experience a disproportionate burden of poor sexual health. Interventions are needed to address these inequalities in accessing this important primary STI/HIV prevention measure.

Type: Article
Title: Difficulty accessing condoms because of the COVID-19 pandemic reported by gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men in the UK: findings from a large, cross-sectional, online survey
Location: England
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1177/09564624231160804
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1177/09564624231160804
Language: English
Additional information: © The Author(s) 2023. Creative Commons License (CC BY 4.0) This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/) which permits any use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access page (https://us.sagepub.com/en-us/nam/open-access-at-sage).
Keywords: COVID-19, MSM, condoms, contraception, gender-diverse, sexual health
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute for Global Health
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute for Global Health > Infection and Population Health
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10167488
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