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Transfusion. 1999 Jan;39(1):83-94.

Prevalence of GB virus type C/hepatitis G virus RNA and of anti-E2 in individuals at high or low risk for blood-borne or sexually transmitted viruses: evidence of sexual and parenteral transmission.

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Institut National de la Transfusion Sanguine, Paris, France.



The first epidemiologic evidence of GB virus type C (GBV-C)/hepatitis G virus (HGV) infection showed a high prevalence of asymptomatic carriers in blood donors and in populations at risk for blood-borne viruses. However, by using only viral RNA polymerase chain reaction, those studies underestimated the true spread of GBV-C/HGV infection. The combined detection of GBV-C/HGV RNA and of anti-E2 (which reflects recovery from infection) is necessary to define accurately the prevalence of GBV-C/HGV.


The presence of both anti-E2 and GBV-C/HGV RNA was searched for in 1438 serum samples collected from various groups of individuals at low or high risk for blood-borne or sexually transmitted viruses (blood donors, organ donors, unselected pregnant women, immunocompetent or immunodepressed multiply transfused patients, HIV-positive or HIV-negative homosexual men, intravenous drug addicts).


The presence of GBV-C/HGV RNA and/or anti-E2 (exposure to GBV-C/HGV) was frequent in populations at risk for blood-borne or sexually transmitted viruses. GBV-C/HGV appeared also to be sexually transmitted, with transmission from male to female more efficient than vice versa. A particularly elevated level of exposure to GBV-C/HGV was observed in homosexual men. In immunocompetent individuals, the prevalence of anti-E2 was about twice that of GBV-C/HGV RNA, which suggests the frequency of recovery from GBV-C/HGV infection. Most of the GBV-C/HGV RNA-positive individuals had no biochemical evidence of liver damage.


GBV-C/HGV is frequent in populations at risk for blood-borne or sexually transmitted viruses. GBV-C/HGV is not a hepatitis virus, and it seems appropriate to rename it.

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