A recent article in the journal Sexually Transmitted Infections has looked at changes in behaviour in MSM in London during the Covid 19 pandemic. The study was web-based and only among HIV-negative MSM in a large urban setting.
Objectives: The COVID-19 pandemic and its related restrictions have affected attendance to and delivery of UK sexual healthcare services.
Methods: This was a cross-sectional, anonymous, web-based survey among HIV-negative MSM at high risk of HIV infection who attended a sexual health and HIV clinic in London in August 2020. They collected data on sociodemographic characteristics, sexual behaviour and related mental well-being experienced during lockdown.
Results: 814 MSM completed the questionnaire: 75% were PrEP users; three quarters reported they have been sexually active, about half had sex outside their household. The majority reported fewer partners than prior to lockdown. Interestingly 73% had discussed COVID-19 transmission risks with their sexual partners.
One out of five reported guilt for breaching COVID-19 restrictions and three out of four implemented one or more changes to their sexual behaviour. PrEP users reported higher partner number, engagement in ‘chemsex’ and use of sexual health services than non-PrEP users.
Conclusions: COVID-19 restrictions had a considerable impact on sexual behaviour and mental well-being in respondents. High rates of sexual activity and STI diagnoses were reported during lockdown. Changes to sexual health services provision for MSM must respond to high rates of psychological and STI-related morbidity and the challenges faced by this population in accessing services.
Visit STIRIG: if you are interested in current research going on in sexually transmitted infections.
SITRIG is part of London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
LSHTM is a world-leader for STI research, and is a WHO Collaborating Centre for Sexually Transmitted Infections.
STIRIG aim to:
- Raise awareness of STI-related research being conducted at LSHTM
- Increase cross-disciplinary and cross-Faculty work on STIs
- Develop internal and external collaborations
- Maximise funding opportunities
See the January issue of their newsletter.
We invite researchers in various fields related to sexual health, HIV and other sexually transmitted viruses to apply for research funds.
Sexually Transmitted Infections Research Foundation (STIRF) was set up to pump prime research projects relating to the epidemiology, pathophysiology, management, and health care delivery of sexually transmitted infections and HIV in the West Midlands, Trent, Yorkshire, Northern and North West regions.
The primary aim is to provide initial funding to allow promising projects from researchers early in their career to obtain preliminary results as a prelude to acquire further funds from larger funding bodies.
We invite applications from researchers in the above regions on projects relating to sexually transmitted diseases and HIV. All projects will be initially screened by the Scientific Committee of STIRF and those considered suitable will be sent for peer review by experts in the field.
The following fields of research will be considered in relation to STIs and HIV
- Epidemiology of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases
- Research on HPV and other sexually transmissible malignancies
- Health care delivery including views of clients
- Issues relating to deprived or marginalised communities.
- Pathophysiology of diseases and syndromes
- Inter-relationship between diseases
- Treatment modalities
- Complications of treatment and co-morbidities
Applications should not exceed £50,000 in the first year. Depending on satisfactory reports a further £25,000 may be available for the second year. Joint funding with other grant giving bodies will be considered.
For further information and guidance on how to apply visit
Deadline for applications is 31th December 2017
Applications using the appropriate form downloaded from the STIRF web site should be sent by email to:
Dr Mohsen Shahmanesh, (Hon Secretary STIRF)
Cuts to sexual health services in parts of England are placing the care of patients at risk, a new report has warned according to a report published in the BMJ.
The research by the healthcare think tank the King’s Fund concluded that budget cuts of more than 20% to genitourinary medicine (GUM) services in some parts of the country had led to service closures and staffing cuts that have harmed patient care. Experts said that the findings were particularly worrying given that numbers of diagnoses of sexually transmitted infections such as syphilis and gonorrhoea were rising.
Current pressures on services were also having a negative effect on staff morale and leading some staff to consider alternative careers, the report warned.
The researchers analysed data and interviewed frontline staff to examine the effect of funding pressure on patient care across four service areas: GUM, district nursing, elective hip replacements, and neonatal care.
Their findings indicated that sexual health and district nursing had been hardest hit which undermined the vision set out in NHS England’s Five Year Forward View to strengthen prevention and community based services.
The authors said that sexual health services such as GUM had become more prone to budgetary cuts since moving from the NHS to local government, because of local authorities’ legal obligation to balance their books.
This year we have had six applications for grants from Liverpool, Manchester, Middlesbrough, Newcastle, and Sheffield. These have been sent out to external scientific referees. The successful applicant will be informed in late September 2011.
I am cycling from Birmingham to London this weekend August 12 to raise funds for STIRF and its research. Any help is more than welcome. You can pay either by PayPal on the site or a cheque made out to STIRF and sent to:
c/o Whittall Street Clinic
Birmingham B4 6DH