The research within this laboratory have as main goal the study of the dynamics of infection via mycobacteria, HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and to understand their determinants at individual and community level.
It also aims to study the relative frequency of the modes of transmission of these infections in the community, and to understand the adoption and performance of prevention methods, diagnostic tests and therapies.
It has a strong focus on key populations for each of the infections, with the aim of leaving no one behind. In addition, there is an interest in studying the COVID-19 pandemic, measuring the occurrence of the infection in different population groups and its determinants, and understanding how the pandemic has influenced access to primary and secondary prevention and harm reduction strategies for HIV, viral hepatitis, STIs and tuberculosis, and assessing its impact on psychological well-being.
The research goals of this laboratory are:
- To measure the occurrence (prevalence and incidence) and determinants at the individual and community level of infection by mycobacterias, HIV and other sexually transmitted infections;
- To study and evaluate the impact of COVID-19 on the incidence and delay of tuberculosis diagnosis in Portugal;
- Develop a deprivation index for the delay in tuberculosis diagnosis and treatment;
- To evaluate the adoption of prevention methods, diagnostic tests and therapies for each of these infectious agents and the operational characteristics of the tests;
- Contribute to the understanding of HIV, syphilis, hepatitis B and C, use of psychoactive substances, violence and socio-economic disadvantage in key populations, and their influence on prevention, testing and continuum of care.
- To assess the impact of COVID-19 on testing provision and delay in diagnosis of different infections (HIV, viral hepatitis, STIs and tuberculosis), to understand its impact on psychological well-being and, access to prevention and harm reduction strategies.
- To study the psychological impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and its containment measures, as well as the individual and socio-environmental determinants of mental health during this crisis.
- To analyse possible behavioural changes in the population during and after the pandemic period regarding the (ab)use of psychoactive substances, particularly in its relation to the informal economy, the dynamics associated with processes of domestic violence and social discrimination, unemployment, bereavement issues and food insecurity.
- Measure the prevalence of immunoglobulin (Ig) M and IgG antibodies specific for SARS-CoV-2 in different population groups and identify the factors associated with infection.
- To measure the frequency of long COVID, identify its determinants and evaluate the effect of vaccination on the course of the disease.
This multidisciplinary laboratory focuses its efforts on producing scientific evidence in infectious diseases. The results of the research developed have been of demonstrated importance in supporting the management of COVID-19 in the country, as well as in national and local health policies associated with HIV infection and other STIs.