From 46% to 61% of adults receiving mpox vaccination at two US public health clinics reported a decrease in sexual behaviors tied to viral transmission, including one-time encounters, sex partners, dating app– or sex venue–based sex, and group sex, according to a study published late last week in Sexually Transmitted Diseases.
The study, led by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) researchers, involved 711 adults seeking mpox vaccination at two clinics in Washington, DC, who completed questionnaires from August to October 2022.
Median participant age was 32 years, 52.0% were White, 20.5% were Black, 14.6% were Hispanic, 7.9% were Asian, 2.0% were multiracial, 0.3% were American Indian/Alaska Native, and 9% had HIV. Most participants were men who have sex with men (MSM) (61.0%), 27.0% were women, and 3.8% were men who have sex with only women.
During the 2022 multicountry mpox outbreak, more than 30,000 mpox cases were reported, mainly among MSM. "Decreases in U.S. mpox cases were likely accelerated by a combination of vaccination and modifications to sexual behaviors associated with mpox virus transmission," the researchers wrote.
Greater share of Black, HIV-positive reported less risky sex
Many participants reported fewer one-time sexual encounters (60.8%), sex partners (54.3%), less dating app– or sex venue–facilitated sex (53.4%), and less group sex (45.6%). A total of 39% to 54% reported no change in these behaviors, and 0.4% reported an increase.
While reported cases of mpox continue to be low, individuals may return to behaviors and practices that they engaged in prior to the outbreak. In turn, behavior mitigation strategies may only be implemented as temporary protective measures, underscoring the importance of mpox vaccination for continued protection.
A greater proportion of Black participants reported decreases in all four behaviors since learning about mpox (61% to 76%), compared with White participants (41% to 54%). Also, a higher percentage of participants with HIV than those without HIV said they were engaging less in these activities (72% to 82% vs 43% to 59%).
"While reported cases of mpox continue to be low, individuals may return to behaviors and practices that they engaged in prior to the outbreak," the authors wrote. "In turn, behavior mitigation strategies may only be implemented as temporary protective measures, underscoring the importance of mpox vaccination for continued protection."