GB virus C/hepatitis G virus (GBV-C/HGV) was recently cloned from patients with hepatitis and is regarded as transmissible through blood and blood products. However, other modes of transmission, such as intrafamilial transmission, are still unknown. In this study, the prevalence in serum of GBV-C/HGV RNA and antibody to HGV E2 (anti-E2), a newly developed marker to indicate past infection and familial clustering are investigated among the Jewish general population in Uzbekistan, previously reported as a GBV-C/HGV epidemic group. Of 66 subjects, belonging to 28 families, GBV-C/HGV RNA was detected in seven (10.6%) and anti-E2 was detected in six (9.1%). Subjects doubly positive for both GBV-C/HGV RNA and anti-E2 were not observed. The mean age of subjects positive for GBV-C/HGV RNA was 29.1 years. In contrast, the mean age of subjects positive for anti-E2 was 53.2 years and these ages are significantly different (P < 0.05). Familial clustering of persistent and past GBV-C/HGV infection was observed in three families, one married couple and two mother and infant pairs. Our data indicate that: (1) subjects positive for GBV-C/HGV RNA are distributed among the younger generation and subjects positive for anti-E2 among the older generation; and (2) GBV-C/HGV is possibly spread by intrafamilial transmission, both mother to infant and spouse to spouse, in this studied group.
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