Sergii Dvoriak, MD, DMedSci, is a protocol team member for the HPTN 074 study and senior researcher at the Ukrainian Institute on Public Health Policy (UIPHP) in Kiev, Ukraine. He is also the executive director of the Eurasian Professional Association of Addiction Medicine (EPAAM). In addition, Dr. Dvoriak works as a consultant for the World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). He has more than 70 publications in peer-review journals on drug abuse treatment and public health issues. In 2011 and 2014, Dr. Dvoriak was elected as an International AIDS Society (IAS) governing council member for the European region.
How did you first get involved with the HPTN?
I learned about the HPTN from Dave Metzger, PhD, in 2003 during a WHO meeting in Bangkok. I realized the Network could be incredibly helpful for my country, which has the fastest growing HIV epidemic in Europe due to intravenous drug use. Much later, in 2012, HPTN 074 protocol team member Bob Booth, PhD, and I worked hard to collect data and presented the UIPHP as the best partner to do work with the HPTN in support of the HPTN 074 study.
What do you find most challenging about the work you do in support of the HPTN?
For HPTN 074 we had to work closely with a state lab and state clinic. It was difficult due to strict regulations, lack of flexibility and lack of motivation to participate in research. In addition, we faced a serious problem with the national public health system. Before starting antiretroviral therapy (ART), patients had to go through a series of tests and pay for them out of their own pockets. While the treatment was free, the testing was not. This prevented many from starting ART. Eventually, we solved this problem, but it was a trying experience.
What do you think will change about HIV prevention over the next five years?
In the Ukraine, there is still a big gap between the number of people living with HIV and those currently on ART. Because HIV treatment is the best way to prevent people from getting HIV, more needs to be done to ensure people who need ART have access to it. Previously, only HIV specialist doctors could prescribe and monitor ART use. The solution was to decrease the threshold for access to ART by giving family physicians the ability to prescribe ART. I think the same approach will be applied to methadone maintenance therapy (MAT) since increasing the number of modern regimens will be helpful with ART use.
What do you wish other people knew about your work?
I would be happy if other people recognize the main goal of our work, within HPTN as well as within other projects, is to create a research infrastructure for relevant studies in our country and convince national policy-makers that science should be part of each decision regarding public health issues. It’s very important to know research should be performed regularly. The more organizations taking part in research, the more useful data we get, and the more reasoned decisions will be made.
What might (someone) be surprised to know about you?
I was trained and worked some years as a psychoanalyst.
What do you do when you aren't working?
I listen to a lot of music and spend time with my grandsons. I also love to read classic novels, journalism and publicist literature. And I love traveling, visiting nice botanical gardens and meeting with old friends in cozy restaurants.