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Clin Infect Dis. 2012 Oct;55(7):1012-9. doi: 10.1093/cid/cis589. Epub 2012 Jul 2.

Acquisition of GB virus type C and lower mortality in patients with advanced HIV disease.

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Blood Systems Research Institute, Epidemiology, San Francisco, CA 94118, USA.



GB virus type C (GBV-C) is transmitted by sexual or parenteral exposure and is prevalent among patients receiving blood products. GBV-C is associated with lower human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) RNA and better survival among HIV-infected patients. Open questions are the presence and the direction of any causal relationship between GBV-C infection and HIV disease markers in the context of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART).


We used a limited access database obtained from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute's Viral Activation Transfusion Study (VATS), a randomized controlled trial of leukoreduced vs nonleukoreduced transfusions to HIV-infected transfusion-naive patients. Blood samples from 489 subjects were tested for GBV-C markers. Cox regression models and inverse probability of treatment weights were used to examine the association between GBV-C coinfection and mortality in the VATS cohort.


We found a significant reduction in mortality among GBV-C coinfected VATS subjects, after adjusting for HAART status, HIV RNA level, and CD4 cell count at baseline. Acquisition of GBV-C RNA (n = 39) was associated with lower mortality in 294 subjects who were GBV-C negative at baseline, adjusting for baseline covariates (hazard ratio = 0.22, 95% confidence interval [CI]: .08-.58) and in models in which weights were used to control for time-updated covariates (odds ratio = 0.21, 95% CI: .08-.60).


GBV-C viremia is associated with lower mortality, and GBV-C acquisition via transfusion is associated with a significant reduction in mortality in HIV-infected individuals, controlling for HIV disease markers. These findings provide the first evidence that incident GBV-C infection alters mortality in HIV-infected patients.

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