LetsStopAIDS releases first report on how the pandemic is impacting the sex lives of youth
The first LetsStopAIDS Sex Lives Report was released ahead of AIDS 2022, the largest international HIV and AIDS conference taking place in Montreal from July 29 to August 2. The report is the first of its kind and covers the pandemic’s impact on the sexual behaviour of young Canadians and is based on a national representative survey of 1,018 Canadian youth aged 18 to 24. These key findings affirm why youth should be centred in STI and HIV education and prevention.
“The pandemic has really changed the sexual behaviour of youth. They have fewer sexual partners and feel the pandemic has stolen experiences from them. As things open up, youth are calculating youth risk and deciding how sexually adventurous they want to be,” says Shamin Mohamed Jr., founder and president, LetsStopAIDS. “The number of youth not using condoms has doubled in the last three months, increasing the risk of STIs and HIV. As we recover from the pandemic, we must have a greater focus on sexual health education. Accessible and affordable prevention resources must be made available to this demographic.”
The LetsStopAIDS Sex Lives Report identifies several aspects of mental health and sexual behaviour among youth, including risk, sexually transmitted infections, and online dating. These findings reveal how the pandemic has changed how youth navigate intimate relationships. Youth shared the pandemic has made them feel stagnant and lonely, but many want to re-emerge more sexually adventurous.
The report also highlights knowledge gaps regarding HIV prevention methods. It calls for youth inclusion in advocacy and awareness campaigns so materials can be relevant and evidence-based.
- The number of Canadian youth who never use condoms has doubled during the last three months compared to pre-pandemic
- During lockdowns, 52 per cent of young people continued to have sex with partners from different households
- 34 per cent of youth on online dating apps said having sex on the first date has increased compared to pre-pandemic due to lockdown restrictions
- 33 per cent of sexually active youth reported the pandemic has made them more sexually adventurous
- In the last three months, 28 per cent of youth diagnosed with STIs did not receive treatment
- Only 26 per cent of youth have knowledge of PrEP, only 20 per cent know about PEP and only 11 per cent of youth know what U=U is
- For Canadian youth, the pandemic has contributed to a 64 per cent increase in interest in online dating compared to pre-pandemic times
- 43 per cent of youth on online dating apps reported sending more nudes during lockdowns
- 37 per cent of youth on online dating apps reported an increase in “backsliding” with old dates/ex due to lockdowns
- 74 per cent of youth reported worrying about the pandemic’s impact on their mental health
At AIDS 2022 LetsStopAIDS is spearheading the Youth Force, a platform for youth from around the world to gather and advocate for issues that matter to them. This year, Youth Force is bringing together 55 individuals representing over 18 countries and over 12 local and international youth-led and youth-serving AIDS service organizations.