LabMed

Hepatitis G (GBV-C)

At a Glance

Hepatitis G virus, more properly known as GB virus type C (GBV-C), is a flavivirus; the same class of viruses as hepatitis C and yellow fever virus. It appears highly endemic in human populations but has not been definitively associated with human disease. Several lines of evidence suggest that infection with GBV-C causes little or no disease:

  • Most patients with GBV-C viremia have normal liver function tests (LFT).

  • Patients coinfected with either HIV or hepatitis C virus (HCV) and GBV-C do no worse than those without GBV-C.

  • Less virus is found in liver than in blood in infected patients, suggesting the virus may not be hepatotrophic.

  • Liver transplant recipients positive for GBV-C do equally as well as uninfected patients.

  • Patients in case reports with significant liver disease and detected GBV-C were frequently transfused recently; GBV-C is common in the blood donor population and may be passively transferred.

  • No association between GBV-C infected blood units and post-transfusion hepatitis has been described.

What Tests Should I Request to Confirm My Clinical Dx? In addition, what follow-up tests might be useful?

A GBV-C RNA by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) is available for detection of viremia. It is unclear when it might be indicated, as GBV-C is not strongly implicated in human disease.

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