COVID-19 and LGBT Sexual Health: Lessons learned, digital futures?

The challenge

Since 1975, LGBT Foundation supports LGBT people in Greater Manchester, providing a range of services such as support groups, advocacy, and sexual health. The Sexual Health programme provides HIV and STI (sexually transmitted infections) rapid testing, counselling and outreach workshops, using a combination of face-to-face and online activities.

During the COVID-19 lockdown, LGBT Foundation transferred its services and activities online. Anecdotal evidence suggested an increase in the number of people accessing services online. however, little was known about their demographics or geographical location, and whether ‘traditional’ service users had transitioned online. Exploring this was essential to understand LGBT Foundation’s role during the pandemic and whether online services might be a future avenue of work.

The solution

This project collected people’s experiences of services, views of online activities, and desires for the future to understand the position of LGBT Foundation both during the COVID-19 lockdown and moving forwards in the ‘new normal’. The project included a review of the available literature (particularly around the impact of COVID-19 on LGBT+ people), an analysis of the available data on service users collected by LGBT Foundation during the COVID-19 lockdown, and a free-text online survey distributed via social media to explore the experiences of, and satisfaction with, the online services provided.

The impact

The information collected provided an updated description of service users during the COVID-19 pandemic and summarised their experiences and desires, providing LGBT Foundation with a framework for future online delivery of services.

  • The report included a number of recommendations based on the responses and staff’s interviews. Some of these have already been taken up, such as the use of hybrid models for testing. It will also be essential for LGBT Foundation to secure future funding. 
  • The report was among the first to discuss the impact of online service delivery and raised the interest of national organisations such as the NHS.
  • The report was presented to other organisations and policymakers, initiating a national discussion about how LGBT services could move forward. 
Research lead 

Jaime García-Iglesias, PhD Researcher in Sociology (The University of Manchester, School of Social Sciences).

2020 Project Excellence Awards

This research project won the Project Excellence Award, which recognises the significant achievements of our postgraduate and early career researchers in making a difference with their PhD skills and expertise in the wider community.

Find out more about the Project Excellence awards.

Final report

COVID-19 and LGBT Sexual Health: Lessons learned, digital futures?’ explores the experiences of LGBT service users accessing online services during the COVID-19 pandemic. This ground-breaking report examines the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on LGBT sexual health and identifies the need for investment and innovation in future service provision.

The report sets out a series of recommendations for sexual health services, both general services and LGBT-specific, on how to address problems that predate COVID-19 that were exacerbated by the lockdown, and will continue to affect services after the pandemic is over.

Read it here

See more on this project