Identifying sexually transmitted infection risk groups based on behavioral and psychological characteristics among heterosexuals during the COVID-19 pandemic

Sexually Transmitted Diseasesvan Wees DA, Godijk NG, den Daas C, et al. | January 14, 2022


Researchers investigated if and how COVID-19 affects sexual behavior and sexually transmitted infection (STI) testing and described individuals who were at high risk of STI.

  • Participants (Dutch heterosexual males and females) of a cohort study conducted in 2016 to 2018 were asked to fill out 2 questionnaires again in 2020 (age, 21–28 years).

  • Data analysis led to the identification of four latent classes (n = 238).

  • STI risk was recorded as low and mostly there were steady partnerships for individuals in class 1 (48% of study population) and class 2 (36%).

  • Multiple casual partners were recorded for individuals in class 3 (9%) and class 4 (7%) prelockdown.

  • There were lower condom use and health goals, negative infection prevention attitudes, and higher impulsiveness among individuals in class 4 when compared with class 3.

  • Compared with prelockdown, same/increased partner numbers were often recorded during lockdown (class 3, 18%; class 4, 56%) and postlockdown (class 3, 36%; class 4, 42%).

  • Of individuals who wanted an STI test during the pandemic, no test could be obtained by 62% in class 3 and 56% in class 4, mainly due to the inability to get an appointment.

  • During the pandemic, high-risk behavior was shown by a subgroup of individuals, characterized by low health goals, negative infection prevention attitudes, and high impulsiveness.

  • Identification of these individuals may facilitate provision of relevant healthcare during strict lockdowns and after relaxation of measures.

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