• antibody to HGV;
  • clinical course;
  • chronic hepatitis;
  • coinfection;
  • GB virus-C;
  • hepatitis B virus;
  • hepatitis C virus;
  • hepatitis delta virus;
  • hepatitis G virus

Abstract: Aims/Background: The clinical significance of GB virus-C/hepatitis G virus (GBV-C/HGV) infection in chronic hepatitis B is not well known and its role in the outcome of liver disease was investigated. Methods: HGV-RNA and antibody to HGV (anti-E2) were studied in 125 patients with chronic hepatitis B (41 with multiple hepatitis virus exposure), 82 asymptomatic HBsAg carriers and 103 healthy adults. Results: In chronic hepatitis B, HGV-RNA was more frequent in patients with HDV infection and/or anti-HCV positivity than in those without (29% vs 6%, p<0.0001), mainly in drug addicts (38%). At diagnosis the overall prevalence of any marker (HGV-RNA plus anti-E2) was similar in chronic hepatitis due to HBV alone (17%), in HBsAg carriers (16%) and in healthy adults (17%) and increased to 58% in those exposed to HDV and/or HCV. During 1–11 years of follow-up, HGV infection persisted in 70% of patients with chronic hepatitis B. About 40% of HGV persistently coinfected patients underwent sustained biochemical remission, whereas continuing disease activity was observed in 80% of patients who cleared HGV-RNA. Conclusions: In chronic HBV infection the rate of exposure to HGV is similar to that in healthy adults, except for high risk patients. Long lasting HGV coinfection or anti-E2 seroconversion did not modify the course of chronic hepatitis B.