BACKGROUND: Changes in mental and sexual health among men having sex with men (MSM) due to the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic remain unclear.
METHODS: Design: Longitudinal analysis of an ongoing, multicentre, pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) cohort (NCT03893188) in Switzerland. Participants: HIV-negative MSM aged ≥18 who completed at least one questionnaire before and one after the start of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. Outcomes: Primary: mental health, defined as anxiety and depression scores assessed by the Patient Health Questionnaire-4. Secondary: sexual behaviour, well-being, PrEP use and disruption of care. Outcomes were assessed over seven periods corresponding to different SARS-CoV-2 prevention measures in Switzerland. We performed pairwise comparisons between periods (Wilcoxon signed rank test).
RESULTS: Data from 1,043 participants were included. Whilst anxiety scores remained stable over time, depression scores worsened in the second wave and the second lockdown period compared to pre-pandemic scores. This was confirmed by pairwise comparisons (pre-SARS-CoV-2/second wave and pre-SARS-CoV-2/second lockdown: p <0.001). Downward trends in sexual activity,sexualized substance use, and a switch from daily to "event-driven" PrEP were found. Disruption of care affected 42.6% (790/1856) of daily PrEP users’ follow-up visits.
CONCLUSION: In this longitudinal analysis of a PrEP cohort enrolling MSM, depression scores worsened in the second wave and the second lockdown compared to the pre-pandemic period.