Sex and Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) 

The best way to reduce the spread of COVID-19 is to stay home and minimize contact with others. In many areas, that’s mandatory, w
hich leaves some of us asking, “What if I want to meet a guy – NOW? “What if I feel bored and/or horny?”  “What if I feel scared and anxious?”

Use the apps, videos, and texting to keep meeting guys – without meeting in person. You can even have an old-fashioned phone call.  Use this time to flirt or get to know someone better and meet in person once we have official guidance on how to effectively prevent transmission. 

We’ve faced a lot of challenges as a community. We can overcome this one as well. When it comes to sex, please read the very helpful guidelines below, courtesy of the New York Department of Health.

You can also scroll down for information regarding Coronavirus for people living with HIV, as well as for people who use drugs. (Lo Que Necesitas Saber Sobre el Nuevo Coronavirus y el VIH,

Can you have sex?
Yes! Here are some tips for how to enjoy safer sex and reduce the risk spreading COVID-19:

You can get COVID-19 from a person who has it, and especially by being physically close to that person.

  • The virus spreads through particles in the saliva, mucus or breath of people with COVID-19, even from people who do not have symptoms.

We still have a lot to learn about COVID-19 and sex. 

  • The virus has been found in the semen and feces (poop) of people with COVID-19.
  • We do not know if COVID-19 can be spread through vaginal or anal sex.
  • We know that other coronaviruses do not easily spread through sex. This means sex is
    not likely a common way that COVID-19 spreads.
  • You are your safest sex partner. Masturbation will not spread COVID-19, especially if you wash your hands (and any sex toys) with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before and after sex.
  • The next safest partner is someone you live with. Having close contact — including sex — with only a small circle of people helps prevent spreading COVID-19.
  • Have sex only with consenting partners. To learn more about consent, visit
  • You should avoid close contact — including sex — with anyone outside your household. If you do have sex with others outside of your household, have as few partners as possible and pick partners you trust. Talk about COVID-19 risk factors, just as you would discuss PrEP, condoms, and other safer sex topics. Ask them about COVID-19 before you hook up.
  • Do they have symptoms or have they had symptoms in the last 14 days? Most people with COVID-19 have symptoms, but even people who have no symptoms are also infectious. Fever, cough, sore throat, and shortness of breath are symptoms to ask about. But again, asking about symptoms is not a perfect way to know whether someone has COVID-19.
  • Have they been diagnosed with COVID-19 using a nasal swab or saliva test? People who have recovered from COVID-19 at least 10 days from the day their symptoms started and who have not had fever for at least three days are likely no longer infectious.
  • If you usually meet your sex partners online or make a living by having sex, consider taking a break from in-person dates. Video dates, sexting, subscription-based fan platforms, sexy “Zoom parties” or chat rooms may be options for you.
  • If you decide to have sex outside of your circle of contacts or a hook up:
    • Closely monitor yourself for symptoms.
    • Consider getting a swab or saliva test for COVID-19 on a more frequent basis (monthly or within five to seven days of a hookup). Call your health department or medical provider for information on where you can get tested.
    • Take precautions interacting with people at risk for severe COVID-19 illness such as people over 65 years of age or those with serious medical conditions. Medical conditions include lung disease, moderate to severe asthma, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, kidney disease, liver disease, cancer or a weakened immune system (for example, having unsuppressed HIV or a low CD4 count).
    • Be vigilant with face coverings and healthy hand hygiene to minimize risk to others.
  • Kissing can easily pass COVID-19. Avoid kissing anyone who is not part of your small circle of close contacts, ideally only those in your household.
  • Rimming (mouth on anus) might spread COVID-19. Virus in feces may enter your mouth and could lead to infection.
  • Wear a face covering or mask. Maybe it’s your thing, maybe it’s not, but during COVID-19 wearing a face covering that covers your nose and mouth is a good way to add a layer of protection during sex. Heavy breathing and panting can spread the virus further, and if you or your partner have COVID-19 and don’t know it, a mask can help stop that spread.
  • Make it a little kinky. Be creative with sexual positions and physical barriers, like walls, that allow sexual contact while preventing close face to face contact.
  • Masturbate together. Staying six feet apart and face coverings reduce the risk.
  • Condoms and dental dams can reduce contact with saliva, semen or feces during oral or anal sex. Click here to find out how to get free safer sex products.
  • Washing up before and after sex is more important than ever.
    • Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
    • Wash sex toys with soap and warm water.
    • Disinfect keyboards and touch screens that you share with others.

Having antibodies against the virus that causes COVID-19 or a prior positive diagnostic test do not mean definite immunity. Use test results with caution in helping you make decisions about sex, since they’re not perfect.

  • A positive antibody test for the virus that causes COVID-19 may indicate prior exposure, but it does not mean you are immune from reinfection.
  • A prior positive diagnostic test (nose swab or saliva) means you have had COVID-19 and may be less likely to be re-infected. We don’t know how strong that protection is or for how long it lasts.
  • Be cautious in using these tests to make decisions about who you have sex with and what kind of sex you have since antibody test results are not definite proof of immunity. For more information about COVID-19 tests and how to interpret results, visit and look for COVID-19 Testing: Frequently Asked Questions.
  • If you feel unwell, or even start to feel unwell, avoid kissing, sex or any close contact with others. For more information, visit and search COVID symptoms.
  • If you have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, avoid close contact with anyone outside your household and follow NYC guidance about how to prevent exposing others. People exposed to COVID-19 should get tested for the virus using a swab or saliva test.
  • If you or your partner have a medical condition that can lead to severe COVID-19 illness, you may also want to skip sex.
  • HIV: Condoms, taking pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and having an undetectable viral load all help prevent HIV. For more information, click here.
  • Other STIs: Using condoms help prevent other STIs. For more information on STIs, click here.
  • Pregnancy: Reproductive health services — as well as fertility services, prenatal care and cancer screenings – are considered essential services and are available in all five boroughs. Providers may be able to help you without an in-person visit. For more information, click here.

The PrEP team at San Francisco AIDS Foundation recommends keeping up with your PrEP routine, even if you’re not hooking up with anyone right now.

In recent weeks, we’ve heard this question from some of our PrEP clients: Should I continue taking PrEP if I’m social distancing and not having sex right now?

It’s a great question. With a “shelter-in-place” order preventing us from meeting up with partners, many people have found that their sex lives have ground to a halt.

Best option: Continue PrEP as normal 

Our perspective is this: It’s probably best if you continue your normal PrEP routine through the coronavirus crisis. If you take PrEP daily, continuing this regime even if you have no intention of hooking up with anyone in the near future will make it easier to jump back into your sex life once the shelter-in-place order lifts. Taking daily PrEP is effective and safe.

If you already take PrEP 2-1-1 (and have received counseling on how to do this accurately and safely), simply continue taking PrEP how you normally would.

Another option: Stopping PrEP 

If you do choose to discontinue PrEP, there are ways to do it safely. First, contact your PrEP healthcare provider and let them know you’d like to stop taking PrEP. Follow their guidance on how to stop PrEP–they will advise you on how many days to continue taking PrEP after your last sexual encounter.

Please note: If you stop taking PrEP, you’ll need to contact your healthcare provider and get an HIV test before you start taking PrEP again.

Another option: Switching to PrEP 2-1-1 

We don’t recommend switching to PrEP 2-1-1 if you’re already taking daily PrEP if you have not received counseling on this dosing strategy.  If you are interested in switching, discuss this option with your PrEP provider.

PrEP 2-1-1 is only effective for people having anal sex. It is not effective for people having receptive vaginal or front hole sex. At this time, there is not enough evidence to support 2-1-1 dosing with Descovy. You can learn more about PrEP 2-1-1 here.

Extend your prescription 

If you are part of a PrEP Health Program, it may be possible to extend your PrEP prescription until the “shelter-in-place” order lifts. That means your PrEP provider can continue to provide 30-day refills until the order is lifted.  For specifics regarding your care, please reach out to your healthcare provider.

Have your medication delivered 

If you’d prefer not to leave the house, many pharmacies like Walgreens and CVS are waiving delivery fees. Mail-order pharmacies can also ship your medication right to your home.

This article was originally published on
By Janessa Broussard, RN, MSN, AGNP-C and Felipe Flores, BA

  • Reference tips 1-6 above for sex health risks
  • Wear a mask in public
    • Whether or not you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, wear a mask while in public for your safety and the safety of others.
  • Communicate with your partners and other close contacts about your plan to stop your SIP.
  • Have an honest conversation with your sex partners, housemates, and any other close contacts about any significant exposures they may have had.
  • Reminder: People can be asymptomatic
    • It is possible to have coronavirus and not show signs of infection. Continue to practice social distancing in public.
  • Limit number of sexual partners
    • If you do have sex with others, have as few partners as possible. Avoid group sex including sex parties. You and your partner can create an exclusive ‘bubble’ where you agree to only have sex with each other for the time being and stay in communication about your COVID-19 exposure.
    • The more connected we all are, the longer the pandemic will last. This means we all need to have as few social and sexual contacts as possible.
  • Limit all contacts, maintain social distance
    • Until there is clear guidance in your area on returning to normal daily activities, continue to keep social distance from anyone outside of your household.
  • Tell your partners about a COVID-19 diagnosis
    • If you tested positive for COVID-19, tell your sex partners and housemates directly or by going to

Quarantine is used to keep someone who might have been exposed to COVID-19 away from others. Quarantine helps prevent spread of disease that can occur before a person knows they are sick or if they are infected with the virus without feeling symptoms. People in quarantine should stay home, separate themselves from others, monitor their health, and follow directions from their state or local health department. [Read more from]

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