We assessed how the Dutch restrictions imposed on March 15, 2020, affected sexual behavior, preexposure prophylaxis (PrEP), and condom use among PrEP users in Amsterdam.
We used data on (1) PrEP use, (2) anal sex acts, and (3) condom use, per partner type [steady partners (SPs), known casual partners (KCPs), and unknown casual partners (UCPs)], collected daily through a mobile application used between December 1, 2019, and June 30, 2020. We compared the period before versus after March 15, 2020, regarding average proportion of days per week at which each end point was reported and average proportion of anal sex acts covered by PrEP and/or condoms.
We included data from 136 men who have sex with men. After March 15, 2020, the proportion of days with anal sex increased with SPs [odds ratio (OR) = 1.26; 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.10 to 1.44) and decreased with KCPs (OR = 0.73; 95% CI = 0.64 to 0.82) and UCPs (OR = 0.54; 95% CI = 0.48 to 0.61). Shifts in partner types were most profound immediately after March 15, 2020, whereas returning to prerestriction levels mid-May 2020. The proportion of days with PrEP use decreased from 74% before to 58% after March 15, 2020 (P < 0.001). After March 15, 2020, PrEP use during sex decreased with UCPs (β = −0.36; 95% CI = −0.72 to 0.00) but not with SPs and KCPs. Condom use during sex decreased with KCPs (β = −0.36; 95% CI = −0.67 to 0.04) and UCPs (β = −0.24; 95% CI = −0.46 to 0.03) but not with SPs.
MSM decreased sex with casual partners and increased sex with SP, but changes were transient. Decreases in sex acts with casual partners paralleled decreases in PrEP use. However, condom use during sex with casual partners decreased, indicating the importance of continued sexual health services, including sexually transmitted infections screening and PrEP care, during COVID-19 restrictions.