The COVID-19 pandemic and the measures put in place to halt its spread have had a profound and long-lasting impact in our societies. However, despite early reporting of the pandemic as a ‘great equalizer’, research has shown that its detrimental effects have been unevenly distributed among populations. In particular, both the virus and social distancing have had a disproportionate impact on LGBT people, who already suffer from higher rates of poor mental health, are more likely to live alone, and require more formal support services. That is, while COVID-19 may have had specific impacts, it has also exacerbated pre-existing inequalities.

This report describes the characteristics of online service users during the COVID-19 pandemic, compares them to service users before the pandemic, and explores their experiences accessing services and activities. The research focuses on the Sexual Health Programme run by LGBT Foundation in Greater Manchester, which includes the distribution of condoms and lube, STI and HIV tests, and outreach activities. More generally, during the COVID-19 pandemic, sexual and reproductive health and genitourinary medicine services saw a drastic reduction in capacity and a changed mode of operation. This raised concerns about how populations at high-risk for HIV may be unable to continue to access services.

In addition, the temporary reduction in capacity exacerbated pre-existing challenges when accessing services. However, the disruption to service provision may also provide an opportunity for developing new services and modes of delivery.

Cite as

Garcia Iglesias, J. 2021, COVID-19 and LGBT Sexual Health: Lessons Learned, Digital Futures, COVID-19 and LGBT Sexual Health: Lessons Learned, Digital Futures. Available at: https://www.research.ed.ac.uk/en/publications/d7287adc-bebc-494f-bd40-bbd02ee9b0ff

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Last updated: 24 March 2023
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