What is Coronavirus and how could it impact your health, sex life and mental health? 

Government guidance and guidelines may change. We will keep you updated as it happens.


What is Coronavirus? 

You probably know what Coronavirus (or COVID-19) is by now, but just in case you don’t.  

COVID-19, which is a new strain of the coronavirus, causes an infection that can affect your lungs and airways. It’s a pneumonia like virus that can lead to breathing difficulties and serious health condition to people who have underling conditions.  

What are the symptoms?  

The main symptoms of the Coronavirus are a dry cough, a fever/ high temperature and shortness of breath. Other symptoms can include fatigue or tiredness. Sneezing is NOT a main symptom of COVID-19 but you may eventually start sneezing as part of the overall flu package.  

How many gay/bi or men who have sex with men are infected?

You've just asked an impossible question. As of 17 March 2020, the government thinks there is at least 50k+ people infected right now (we will update this as much as we can). This virus has no barrier to sexuality or identity. 

How is it spread? 

There’s no exact information about how it spreads from person to person yet, although similar viruses are spread through coughing, which means it’s likely it’s spread through droplets that travel through the air when people cough or from person to person contact such as touching. 

What do I do if I think I have it? 

If you have any of the above symptoms, the current advice is to self-isolate for 14 days. If you live with other people, they should stay at home for 14 days from the day the first person gets symptoms. 

If you happen to live with someone who is 70 or over, has a long-term condition, is pregnant or has a weakened immune system, try to find somewhere else for them to stay for 14 days. 

If you have to stay at home together, try to keep away from each other as much as possible. 

Only call NHS 111 if you have extreme symptoms.  

How can I reduce the risk of spreading and catching it? 

Wash your hands regularly with soap and water, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve when you cough or sneeze- don’t use your hands. Put used tissues into the bin straight away. Also, try to and avoid close contact with people who aren’t well. 

What about my social life and sex life? 

Well this is where it gets tricky. Because of the way the virus is spread, sex is a high-risk activity, especially if you are having sex with different partners. This is because during sex we tend to swap bodily fluids such as salvia (spit), sweat and cum. Obviously the best way to prevent contracting COVID-19 would be not to have sex, even with your long-term partner, but if you are then try and limit the swapping of bodily fluids through kissing and cuming. Using condoms for oral sex would help.  

The other thing you can look at is reducing the number of sexual partners you are having. If you are attending sex and chemsex parties, saunas or darkrooms then it might be safer to limit these or stop going (government guidelines may see venues forced to close - we will keep you updated about any changes). Should you become infected with COVID-19, by stopping your sexual activity you can prevent passing it on to others.  

Obviously if you are in a long-term relationship and both of you are at home and self-isolating and not showing symptoms then have as much fun as you like. Though if one of you starts to show symptoms try and avoid sex for up to 14 days. If you are in an open relationship, then follow the advice above.

I’m living with HIV – do I need to worry? 

All the evidence is currently showing that people living with HIV do not need to worry about this. You are not more likely to catch it because of your status, especially if you are HIV-undetectable. However, we understand that some older gay and bisexual men living with HIV may have some long-term health conditions related to the virus. Our best advice is to talk with your GP, listen to the advice the NHS is putting out and look after yourself, meaning self-isolate where you can. You should also limit your sexual activity during this time.  

What if I need to get tested for HIV and STIs? 

We know not everywhere has it but try and use home testing services at this time and avoid going to GUM clinics if you can, unless you need treatment. All services will be under extra strain. Current NHS advice is that you should avoid hospitals, GPs and pharmacies if you have any symptoms of COVID-19. 

You can order home testing kits from here

Look after your mental health. 

It’s important that during this time you look after your mental health and wellbeing. Lots of gay and bisexual men experience depression and anxiety so if you are one of these people then make sure to look after your mental wellbeing. Our sister site, OutLife has lots of tips on there. Read them here.

Overall, we know during this time hooking up can help beat boredom and isolation but we all have to do our bit to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. We know older people are high risk of health complications with this virus so we all must do what we can to protect others.