A Daily Beast article about the impact of the pandemic on gay communities cited research by Ian Holloway, director of the Hub for Health Intervention, Policy and Practice at UCLA Luskin. Stay-at-home orders resulted in the closing of many gay bars and other social spaces for LGBTQ individuals. Holloway was the lead author of a study that surveyed 10,000 gay men in 20 countries about their mental health and use of social networking during the pandemic lockdown. The study found that those who only left their homes for essentials during the first COVID lockdowns were 37% more likely to feel anxious than those who didn’t, and 36% more likely to feel lonely. It’s important to remember that gay men “come to this pandemic with disproportionate rates of mental health issues,” said Holloway, an associate professor of social welfare. Distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine is allowing some businesses to reopen, but no one knows when bars and nightclubs will return to normal.
Associate Professor of Social Welfare Ian Holloway joined Channel Q’s “Let’s Go There” podcast to discuss the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on gay and bisexual men. In a recent study of over 10,000 gay and bisexual men in 20 countries, Holloway found that boredom, loneliness and isolation are driving some men to seek sex with others outside of their households, while others are turning to technology to fulfill a need for connection. While gay and bisexual men have been targeted as culprits of breaking lockdown orders, nearly two-thirds of the males in the study were following stay-at-home orders in their local jurisdictions, Holloway said. “It’s natural for gay men to want to foster sexual connection during a pandemic,” he said. “This isn’t our first rodeo.” Holloway said he believes there can be good public health messaging around how to maintain sexuality even while taking precautions against COVID. The podcast segment featuring Holloway begins at minute 29.
The sixth Luskin Summit webinar, “Sexual Health: Hooking Up With Home-Based Testing and Telemedicine,” featured a panel of experts in health care, medicine, research and policy. Moderator Ayako Miyashita Ochoa, adjunct assistant professor of social welfare, explained that while the COVID-19 pandemic has presented new challenges for health care delivery, it has also served as an opportunity to integrate remote practices into sexual health care services. Associate Professor of Social Welfare Ian Holloway highlighted the resilience of sexual health care providers in their ability to pivot to remote care during the pandemic. “Telehealth is here to stay,” he said. Leah Millheiser, senior vice president of medical affairs for the telemedicine company Hims & Hers, noted that many patients who avoided physician offices out of fear of judgment or embarrassment are now taking advantage of telehealth services. Sonali Kulkarni, medical director of the Division of HIV/STD Programs for the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, said that testing is an essential part of the strategy to address rising rates of sexually transmitted diseases. According to Holloway, physical distancing measures in place around the world have had a significant impact on the mental health of gay and bisexual men. Alex Garner of the Gay Sexuality and Social Policy Initiative at UCLA Luskin has been working on ways to promote and provide public health information on gay social networking apps while still respecting them as unique, cultivated spaces for men to connect with one another and to mitigate experiences of loneliness and isolation during the pandemic. — Zoe Day
The study, by the Gay Sexuality and Social Policy Initiative at UCLA Luskin, was published in the Journal of Homosexuality. It focuses on a group that historically has been disproportionately affected by poor health outcomes. The results are based on responses from more than 10,000 men in 20 countries via a survey conducted in April and May 2020 on Hornet, a social networking app, which also participated in the research.
The paper’s lead author, Ian Holloway, is faculty director of UCLA’s Gay Sexuality and Social Policy Initiative, which is dedicated to understanding the complexities of gay male sexuality. Other authors are from UC San Francisco and the LGBT Foundation in San Francisco.
Participants were asked 58 questions about the impact of stay-at-home orders on their lives. Those who reported not going out or only going out for essentials were categorized as staying in. Everyone else, including essential workers and those who said they continued to go out socially amid the pandemic, were categorized as not staying in.
The study found that those who have stayed in during the pandemic were:
- 37% more likely to feel anxious than those who haven’t stayed in.
- 36% more likely to feel lonely.
- 28% more likely to use text messaging to stay connected with others.
- 54% more likely to use video calls to connect with others.
“We know that all people are affected by the isolation that can result from physical distancing,” said Holloway, a UCLA associate professor of social welfare. “Our concern is that the harm may be more severe among gay and bisexual men, who face disproportionate rates of poor mental health and sexual health outcomes. COVID-19 has exacerbated stress, anxiety and social isolation within our communities.”
Most of the survey participants were between the ages of 18 and 34 (55.5%), identified as gay (78.6%), were currently employed (67.7%) and had health care coverage (85.4%). In addition, most lived in a large urban center (69.8%) and were not in a relationship at the time of the survey (67.4%).
Social networking apps like Hornet provide an opportunity for people around the world “to connect with one another and cultivate a sense of community,” said Alex Garner, one of the study’s co-authors and senior health innovation strategist at Hornet. “We must invest in interventions that include harm reduction approaches and leverage technology where possible to increase access to necessary health services and strengthen community connections.”
Sean Howell, a co-author of the study and CEO of the LGBT Foundation, noted that many in the LGBTQ community lack the resources to effectively combat COVID-19, and it is especially critical to understand the challenges facing younger gay people.
“They face greater economic jeopardy or have increased exposure to the virus,” Howell said.
Holloway said there will be significant challenges in tracking mental health outcomes for gay men and other vulnerable communities in the coming months and years. “Our study shows us that technology can help us meet the moment.”
Holloway also directs the UCLA Hub for Health Intervention, Policy and Practice, the umbrella organization for the Gay Sexuality and Social Policy Initiative. In addition to producing research, the initiative will conduct policy analysis and participate in community mobilization seeking to empower global gay communities.
Associate Professor of Social Welfare Ian Holloway was featured in an Instinct Magazine piece about a multi-year study of PrEP familiarity and use among gay and bisexual men. PrEP, a preventative medicine for people at risk for HIV, can be highly effective when taken as prescribed. Holloway’s study found that while gay and bisexual men are more familiar with PrEP than in the past, many are still not using the medicine. “We are heartened to see an increase in PrEP familiarity in this relatively short period of time,” said Holloway, faculty director of the Gay Sexuality and Social Policy Initiative at UCLA Luskin. “But growth in favorable attitudes was modest, as was the increase in PrEP use among sexually active gay and bisexual men.” Looking forward, Holloway hopes to learn more about why PrEP use is still not very popular among at-risk men. The research was also featured in media outlets including Out and Edge.
Ian Holloway, associate professor of social welfare, has received a grant of more than $400,000 from the California Bureau of Cannabis Control to advance his research into the impact of cannabis marketing targeting sexual and gender minority youth. The growing cannabis industry is aggressively pitching its products to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth through online and print media, Holloway said. His research will seek to measure the reach of that messaging and determine whether it leads to greater cannabis use among this group of young people. Filling these knowledge gaps could help explain cannabis-related health disparities among LGBTQ youth and identify targets for regulation of cannabis marketing, he said. Holloway is director of the Hub for Health Intervention, Policy and Practice at UCLA Luskin and a member of the Cannabis Research Initiative at the UCLA Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior. He and Evan Krueger, a post-doctoral scholar at USC’s Health, Emotion & Addiction Laboratory, are principal investigators of the study. Their grant from the Bureau of Cannabis Control is a portion of nearly $30 million recently awarded to California universities to study the impact of Proposition 64, which legalized the recreational use of cannabis for people 21 or older. Across UCLA, faculty and research centers have been awarded $6.4 million from the bureau to study topics including the toxicity of inhaled and second-hand cannabis smoke and employment conditions in California’s cannabis industry. UCLA’s extended track record for cutting-edge cannabis research dates as far back as the 1970s.
Come join Professor Ian Holloway, Doctoral Program Chair, for an information session regarding the Social Welfare PhD program at UCLA. He will provide an overview of the doctoral program, as well as the combined MSW/PhD program, and introduce Social Welfare faculty, current doctoral students and staff.
Associate Professor of Social Welfare Ian Holloway was featured in a Washington Post video about the FDA’s recent decision to ease restrictions on blood donations from gay men. In 1985, the FDA prohibited blood donations from men who had sex with other men even once since 1977. “I think it’s important to recognize that the ban really is rooted in discriminatory attitudes and based on fear and not science,” Holloway explained. In 2015, the lifetime ban became a 12-month ban, which was lowered to three months of abstinence this year. Many gay men who have recovered from COVID-19 have been disheartened to find that they are unable to donate antibodies due to the restrictions. “Many hold the opinion, myself included, that the ban is based on stigma, not science,” Holloway said. “I think the shortening of the deferral period is a step in the right direction, but I don’t think it goes far enough.”
An article in the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies’ Trauma Blog featured research by Associate Professor of Social Welfare Ian Holloway on sexual harassment among LGBT service members. The Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) policy formerly in place in the U.S. military was intended to protect these service members by allowing them to serve and keep their sexual identity confidential, but it likely encouraged discrimination instead. Although the policy was repealed in 2011, new research by Holloway shows the lingering effects of the environment it created. A survey of over 500 active duty service members in the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps found that experiences of sexual assault during military service were roughly twice as common among LGB and transgender service members compared to non-LGBT service members. Holloway and his team concluded that “LGBT members remain at elevated risk of sexual and stalking victimization experiences in the post-DADT military environment.”
Associate Professor of Social Welfare Ian Holloway spoke to Gay City News about the findings of a survey he co-authored that gauged support of transgender troops within the military. Two-thirds of the survey respondents indicated their support for transgender people serving in the U.S. military, a statistic that challenges the Trump administration’s ban on transgender people serving in the military. “In terms of our hypothesis about acceptance, we did expect to find high levels of acceptance — but I don’t think we expected it to be this high,” Holloway said. The report, also covered by LGBTQ Nation, found that support of transgender service members was higher among women, racial minorities, and gay, lesbian and bisexual people than heterosexual white respondents. According to Holloway, the survey “speaks to the importance of diversity in the armed forces, and there have been some concerted efforts to increase representation in the military.”