To evaluate the risk of transmitting blood-borne GB virus C/hepatitis G virus (GBV-C/HGV) and to define the natural course of infection, we performed a prospective study in a cohort of multitransfused β-thalassemics during a 6-year follow-up period. We analyzed serum samples of 150 patients collected at 3-year intervals from 1990 to 1996. GBV-C/HGV RNA was determined by reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction and antibodies to E2-protein by an enzyme immunoassay. At baseline, 14.5% of patients had viremia and 18.5% anti-E2. None of the patients with anti-E2 in 1990 subsequently became viremic. Of the 100 GBV-C/HGV RNA-, anti-E2- patients, 10 acquired infection during follow-up, as indicated by positivity of GBV-C/HGV RNA (n = 2), anti-E2 (n = 7), or both markers (n = 1) in 1996. The incidence was 1.7 per 100 person-years (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.8 to 3). Since approximately 19,000 blood units were transfused to these patients during follow-up, the risk of infection was 5.3 in 10,000 units (95% CI, 2 to 8.5). Six of 22 viremic patients cleared the virus during follow-up; 4 of them became anti-E2+. Twelve of 28 patients lost anti-E2 reactivity during follow-up. In conclusion, more than 25% of infections resolve within 6 years; the presence of anti-E2 seems to be protective against infection. Anti-E2 reactivity may decrease with time.
|Number of pages||4|
|Publication status||Published - Feb 1 1998|
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