People Are Still Having Sex. So Why Are S.T.D. Rates Dropping?

Even if sex has declined, researchers question how long it can remain suppressed. Dr. Lehmiller noted that online dating apps report record business. Whether that translates into sexual activity rather than virtual meet-ups is unclear, he said. If people are returning to normal levels of encounters, they may not want to admit it.

“There is shaming about traveling, social events and gatherings during the pandemic, so sex and dating is seen as part of that,” he said.

For now, triage at clinics is pervasive. Pre-pandemic, the San Francisco City Clinic would typically send more than a hundred specimens to be processed daily at the health department laboratory. Because those supplies have dwindled, the clinic is resorting to a smaller, more expensive backup system, that can only process several dozen gonorrhea and chlamydia tests a day, said Dr. Ina Park, an associate professor of community and family medicine at the University of California San Francisco School of Medicine.

Men who take PrEP to

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