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BMC Public Health ; 21(1): 1780, 2021 10 02.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1448221


BACKGROUND: Social distancing measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19 may profoundly impact young people's relationships. This study compared adolescent and young adults' romantic relationships and sexual activity before and after social distancing policies were enacted. METHODS: In June 2020, 351 youth participating in an ongoing intervention study in Fresno County, California completed an online survey about their experiences related to COVID-19. The survey included open and closed-ended questions about their romantic relationships, sexual activity, and online romantic or sexual interactions before and during social distancing restrictions. We used the chi-square test of independence to compare adolescent (ages 13-17) and young adults' (ages 18-21) responses. Results were also compared to responses in the intervention study's baseline survey. RESULTS: One-third (37%) of youth were dating or in a romantic relationship and 28% spent time in person with a partner early in the COVID-19 pandemic. Among those dating or in a relationship, 34% physically distanced from their partner due to parental restrictions related to COVID-19. Youth also spent less time in person with their partners during the pandemic than before. Although most youth (69%) were not sexually active before or during the pandemic, 22% had sex during the social distancing period. Young adults were more likely to spend time with their partners and have sex during the restrictions than adolescents. Most youth were not involved in sexting or online dating, before or during the pandemic. CONCLUSIONS: Adolescents and young adults have continued to engage in sexual and romantic relationships during the COVID-19 pandemic, although many reported physical distancing from their partners. Results suggest that youth continue to need access to sexual health education and services during emergencies such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

COVID-19 , Pandemics , Adolescent , Adult , Humans , SARS-CoV-2 , Sexual Behavior , Sexual Partners , Young Adult