The impact of COVID-19-related restrictions in 2020 on sexual healthcare use, pre-exposure prophylaxis use, and sexually transmitted infection incidence among men who have sex with men in Amsterdam, the Netherlands

the HIV Transmission Elimination AMsterdam, H-TEAM) Consortium

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Objectives: We studied the effects of restrictions related to the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2; coronavirus disease 2019 [COVID-19]) pandemic on the use of sexual healthcare and pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and on the incidence of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) among men who have sex with men (MSM) in a prospective, open-label PrEP demonstration study (AMPrEP) in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Methods: We retrieved data from 2019 to 2020 for participants with one or more study visit in 2019 (n = 305) and from two COVID-19 questionnaires (2020: n = 203; 2021: n = 160). Analyses were stratified for three periods of pandemic-related restrictions (first: 15 March 2020–15 June 2020; second: 16 June 2020–15 September 2020; third: 16 September 2020–31 December 2020 or 1 April 2021 for the COVID-19 questionnaire). Endpoints included returning for care during the pandemic, PrEP use (increased/unchanged vs. deceased/stopped, relative to 2019), and any STI/HIV. We modelled determinants of care and PrEP use via multivariable logistic regression and STI incidence using piecewise Poisson regression, comparing the 2020 and 2019 periods. Results: Of the 305 MSM included in the analysis, 72.8% returned for care during the pandemic, and this was significantly more likely among daily (vs. event-driven) PrEP users (p < 0.001). Increased/unchanged PrEP use ranged from 55.2% to 58.1% across the three pandemic periods and was more likely among those reporting chemsex in the first (p = 0.001) and third (p = 0.020) periods and among those reporting an increased/unchanged number of sex partners during the second period (p = 0.010). STI incidence was significantly lower in 2020 than in 2019 during the first period (incidence rate ratio [IRR] 0.43; 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.28–0.68) and not significantly different during the second (IRR 1.38; 95% CI 0.95–2.00) and third (IRR 1.42; 95% CI 0.86–2.33) periods. No HIV was diagnosed. Conclusion: COVID-19-related restrictions coincided with reduced care and PrEP use. Changes in STI incidence suggest delayed diagnoses. Ways to ensure continued access to sexual healthcare during restrictions are needed.

Original languageEnglish
JournalHIV medicine
Early online date2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2022


  • COVID-19
  • men who have sex with men
  • pre-exposure prophylaxis
  • sexual healthcare use
  • sexually transmitted infections

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