Since the initial spread of COVID-19 back in late December in Wuhan, China, has happened, researchers quickly advised the government to enforce a self-distancing and lockdown policy. This has proven to be quite an effective technique in preventing the further spread of COVID-19 and it is a technique that has been now used by most countries faced with the pandemic including Italy, Spain, Russia, and many others.
But it seems that the lockdown is a double-edged sword in ways that nobody could expect it to be. While it is helping to slow down the pandemic, it has also helped to increase the already high number of HIV cases across the U.S.
Travis Sanchez, an epidemiologist working at the Emory University, conducted a survey among 1,000 men who engage in sex with other men. The results of the survey were then published in the AIDS and Behavior journal in April 2020. Although about half of the men have reported having engaged in sexual intercourse with fewer sexual partners as well as a decline in their activity on the usual hook-up apps such as Tinder, Grindr, Bumble, etc. the results still showed a surprising rise in new HIV cases.
We say surprisingly because such behavior is expected to reflect positively and reduce HIV transmission. But the participants of the survey told a different story. Because of the lockdown, thousands of centers where these men could potentially get tested for HIV and any other STD have been closed. This has led to about a quarter of the men to experience problems while getting tested for STDs and determining their sexual health status.
If we have learned anything about STDs and how they spread, we know that being aware of one’s sexual health status plays a great role in STD prevention. Experts go on to explain that most individuals resume their risky behavior before they are offered full access to proper prevention and testing services.
As the experts suggest, the world will not be fully aware of the impact that HIV and the other STDs had during this lockdown until next year, once the annual 2020 statistical data has been provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Experts go on explaining and alerting people to take better care of their sexual health during these uncertain times. Now is not the time to face a dangerous and potentially life-threatening infection such as HIV, when you need your immune system strong and prepared to fight the even more dangerous COVID-19. Practicing safe sex by using condoms and limiting the number of sexual partners, even abstaining from sex, are the best prevention methods that one can rely on.