Associations Between Living on the Texas-Mexico Border, Drug Use, and Sexual Behaviors Among Sexual Minority Men During the First Shelter-In-Place Order of the Coronavirus Pandemic

Nqobile Nzama, University of Texas at El Paso


Background: There have been changes in drug use and sexual behaviors among sexual minority men since the coronavirus pandemic. At this time, there is not adequate literature focusing on the state of Texas. Aims and Objective: The aims of this secondary data analysis and exploratory study are to determine associations between sociodemographic characteristics and living on the Texas-Mexico border, drug use, sexual behaviors, and use of dating/hook-up apps among sexual minority men who completed the COVID-19 & You Survey conducted between May 1, 2020 to July 31, 2020, during the first shelter-in-place order of the Coronavirus pandemic. Hypotheses: The hypotheses of this study were be repeated for each of the analytical outcomes including living in a border county; increased use of alcohol since shelter-in-place; increased use of any illicit drugs since shelter-in-place; started/continued hooking-up via apps since shelter-in-place; and decreased use of condoms since shelter-in-place. It was predicted that, as compared to those without the analytical outcome, those with the outcome will have a change in odds for ever attending a sex party where drugs were used; drinking alcohol or using recreational drugs due to COVID-19; finding alcohol, smoking pot, or other drug use helpful for coping since the beginning of COVID-19; hook-up and dating apps use; meeting up with people from hook-up and dating apps; being in a relationship or dating; being in an open or polygamous relationship; engaging in sex or sexual activity for money or working in the sex industry; and condom use. Methods: Descriptive statistics (n, frequency, and percent) were determined for all measures and their bivariate associations with each analytical outcome using Chi-Square tests. Adjusted associations were determined using logistic regression adjusting for age, race and ethnicity, education level, citizenship/immigration status, sexual orientation, and HIV positive status. Tests results were determined to be significant if the p-value < 0.05. Odds ratio and 95% confidence intervals are reported. Results: A total of 560 sexual minority men completed the survey. The majority were white (61.5%) and were either lesbian/gay/same-gender-loving (90.0%). For the analytical outcomes, 16.8% were living in a border county, 56.5% increased their use of alcohol since shelter-in-place, 27.8% increased their use of any illicit drug since shelter-in-place, 36.2% started or continued their use of hook-up apps since shelter-in-place, and 16.9% decreased their condom use since shelter-in-place. The following are the significant adjusted results for each analytical outcome based on an overall significant association with the outcome and/or decrease/increased odds of the outcome. Living in a Border County: Race and ethnicity, education level, and relationship status. Increased Use of Alcohol Since Shelter-in-Place: Race and ethnicity, finding it helpful to use alcohol/drugs since shelter-in-place, relationship, last sexual intercourse. Increased Use of Any Illicit Drug Since Shelter-in-Place: Age, race and ethnicity, ever engaging in sex or sexual work, and since shelter-in-place, increased use of recreational drugs, finding it helpful to use alcohol/drugs, and use of hookup or dating apps. Continued or Started Hooking-Up via Apps Since Shelter-in-Place: Age, relationship status, relationship type, last sexual intercourse, ever engaged in sex work, and since shelter-in-place, condoms use and sexual activity frequency. Decreased Condom Use Since Shelter-in-Place: Race and ethnicity, sexual orientation, relationship status, condoms use prior to shelter-in-place, and sexual activity frequency since shelter-in-place. Conclusions: There are limited studies conducted at a state or national level that explore the factors that impact or changes of drug use and sexual behavior among sexual minority men during the first COVID-19 shelter-in-place order. This study may serve as a reference for future studies which may include border counties.

Subject Area

LGBTQ studies|Public health

Recommended Citation

Nzama, Nqobile, "Associations Between Living on the Texas-Mexico Border, Drug Use, and Sexual Behaviors Among Sexual Minority Men During the First Shelter-In-Place Order of the Coronavirus Pandemic" (2021). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI28869646.