We know our communities are responsible in looking after their health and the health of their partners. With the current situation surrounding COVID-19 and the need for social distancing, the best way to prevent COVID-19 transmission is to avoid casual sex with people you are not living with or who are not your regular sexual partner. Touching and kissing are key areas for transmission, and direct personal contact is a risk for transmission. That is why we are being asked to practice social distancing.
While COVID-19 is not a sexually transmitted infection, physical contact during sex carries a risk of transmission. If you continue to have casual sex, take precautions to stay as safe as possible by reducing the number of people you have sex with and assist with contract tracing by ensuring you have the contact information of your partners. Remember to access regular sexual health testing and always practice safe sex by always using condoms.
We all need to play our part. It is important we look to other means to stay socially connected, including using alternative, more virtual means to engage with prospective sexual partners from the comfort of your own home. It is important to be aware of how COVID-19 is transmitted and that the close contact that occurs during sex is a key risk factor for infection with the virus.
We also recognize the diversity of relationships in our communities. Some people live with their sexual partners, others live in different households. Social distancing has made maintaining connections more complex and, sometimes, difficult.
We recognize that for some people in our communities, lengthy periods of physical distancing can be challenging and being unable to have sex with others can heighten a sense of disconnection. This can have effects on our mental health and well-being.
It is important for people not have sex if they are not feeling well, especially if they have symptoms of COVID-19 such as a sore throat, cough, fever, shortness of breath, runny or blocked nose, headache, loss of smell and/or taste, diarrhea, muscle aches or joint pains. Equally, people should avoid having sex with someone who says they are unwell, even if their symptoms are mild.
As a community, we know the importance of good communication and awareness-raising around health issues. We have shown great commitment in maintaining good health – in the case of sexual health, we are highly attuned to the risks of HIV and other STIs, and we implement strategies to prevent transmission. But the risks around coronavirus are very different – it is far easier to transmit.
Practice good hygiene such as washing your hands thoroughly for at least 20 seconds with soap and water, covering your nose and mouth when coughing and sneezing with a tissue or a flex elbow, and avoiding close contact with anyone with cold or flu-like symptoms.
Anyone with symptoms such as a cough, fever, sore throat or shortness of breath should isolate themselves from others and get tested.