Toronto Metropolitan University

File(s) not publicly available

Characteristics of the sexual networks of gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men in Montréal, Toronto, and Vancouver: implications for the transmission and control of mpox in Canada

journal contribution
posted on 2024-04-04, 16:46 authored by Fanyu Xiu, Jorge Luis Flores Anato, Joseph Cox, Daniel Grace, Trevor HartTrevor Hart, Shayna Skakoon-Sparling, Milada Dvorakova, Jesse Knight, Linwei Wang, Oliver Gatalo, Evan Campbell, Terri H. Zhang, Hind Sbihi, Michael A. Irvine, Sharmistha Mishra, Mathieu Maheu-Giroux

Background: The 2022–2023 global mpox outbreak disproportionately affected gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (GBM). We investigated differences in GBM's sexual partner distributions across Canada's 3 largest cities and over time, and how they shaped transmission.

Methods: The Engage Cohort Study (2017–2023) recruited GBM via respondent-driven sampling in Montréal, Toronto, and Vancouver (n = 2449). We compared reported sexual partner distributions across cities and periods: before COVID-19 (2017–2019), pandemic (2020–2021), and after lifting of restrictions (2021–2023). We used Bayesian regression and poststratification to model partner distributions. We estimated mpox's basic reproduction number (R0) using a risk-stratified compartmental model.

Results: Pre–COVID-19 pandemic distributions were comparable: fitted average partners (past 6 months) were 10.4 (95% credible interval: 9.4–11.5) in Montréal, 13.1 (11.3–15.1) in Toronto, and 10.7 (9.5–12.1) in Vancouver. Sexual activity decreased during the pandemic and increased after lifting of restrictions, but remained below prepandemic levels. Based on reported cases, we estimated R0 of 2.4 to 2.7 and similar cumulative incidences (0.7%–0.9%) across cities.

Conclusions: Similar sexual partner distributions may explain comparable R0 and cumulative incidence across cities. With potential for further recovery in sexual activity, mpox vaccination and surveillance strategies should be maintained.