Dana Kablawi is investigating sex differences in the association of HIV with metabolic-fatty liver disease

Montreal medical student Dana Kablawi received a New Investigator Scholarship to attend the prestigious 2023 Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI 2023). She was also honoured by an invitation to give an oral presentation of the research project she is conducting at the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI-MUHC). Organized by the International Antiviral Society and held this year in February in Seattle, Washington, in the United States, CROI is the premium world meeting on the topic of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), retroviruses and opportunistic infections.

Kablawi, a fourth year medical student at McGill University, is conducting her research project on “Sex differences in the association of HIV with metabolic-fatty liver disease.” The project is supervised by Dr. Giada Sebastiani, a scientist in the Infectious Diseases and Immunity in Global Health Program at the RI-MUHC who conducts research at the Centre for Outcomes Research and Evaluation. Kablawi delivered her talk as part of a themed discussion of “Steatohepatitis: sex differences and other risk factors.”

“This study aims to investigate the sex differences in the incidence and severity of metabolic associated fatty liver disease, or MAFLD, in people living with HIV,” Kablawi explains. “We found that MAFLD seems to be a sexual dimorphic disease in this population. Despite having lower rates of MAFLD, women with HIV have higher incidence of significant liver fibrosis compared to men, especially after 50 years of age. Future studies should target adequate consideration of sex difference in the clinical investigation of MAFLD to fill current gaps and implement precision medicine for people living with HIV.”

“People with HIV are at high risk for liver disease,” says her supervisor, Dr. Sebastiani. “At such an early stage of her career, Dana has already contributed significantly to this important research field. Dana shows devotion, talent and commitment to improving research and care of people with HIV and fatty liver.”

Learn more about CROI 2023