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J Hepatol. 1997 Apr;26(4):794-7.

High prevalence and coinfection rate of hepatitis G and C infections in intravenous drug addicts.

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  • 1Outpatient Department of Internal Medicine, University of Basel, Switzerland.

Abstract

BACKGROUND/AIMS:

The hepatitis G virus is a newly discovered RNA virus which is possibly transmitted parenterally. Hepatitis G virus is associated with acute or chronic hepatitis and may lead to cirrhosis and liver cancer, characteristics shared by the hepatitis C virus. Hepatitis C virus is prevalent in drug users, but the frequency and role of hepatitis G virus is not yet well established.

METHODS:

One hundred and seventeen heavy i.v. drug users were enrolled in a prospective, controlled, randomized study for i.v. administration of heroin and/or methadone. Hepatitis G virus was detected using a hot start polymerase chain reaction followed by an ELISA polymerase chain reaction assay. Hepatitis C virus genotyping was done using the Inno-Lipa strip assay.

RESULTS:

Hepatitis G virus infection was detected in 35% (41/117) of the study population and hepatitis C virus infection in 95.7% (112/117). Ninety-seven percent of hepatitis G virus positive patients were coinfected with hepatitis C virus, of whom 75% were infected with hepatitis C virus genotype 3a. This genotype was prevalent in 48.3% of patients infected with hepatitis C virus alone. The presence or absence of hepatitis G virus infection had no influence on chronic hepatitis. Twenty-two percent of patients who started injecting heroin before 1980 and 40% of those who started after 1980 were hepatitis G virus positive. Overall, 16 patients were infected with human immunodeficiency virus, six were coinfected with hepatitis G virus and hepatitis C virus, and 10 only with hepatitis C virus.

CONCLUSIONS:

Hepatitis G virus infection is highly prevalent in i.v. drug users, but less frequent than hepatitis C virus infection. The fact that all but two patients were coinfected with hepatitis C virus, 75% with one genotype, supports a common route of transmission for both viruses. The course of hepatitis C virus infection is not altered by hepatitis G virus infection.

PMID:
9126791
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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