To determine the routes of transmission of hepatitis G virus (HGV) and the relationship between HGV and hepatitis C virus (HCV) infections, we tested for HGV RNA by polymerase chain reaction and antibody to HCV (anti- HCV) in 494 hemodialysis patients, 638 inhabitants of two HCV endemic areas, and in 400 blood donors in Japan. HGV RNA was detected in 6.9% of hemodialysis patients, in 1.4% of inhabitants, and in 0.8% of donors, and anti-HCV was detected in 39.3%, 12.4%, and 1.8%, respectively. Of HGV RNA- positive hemodialysis patients, and HGV RNA-positive inhabitants, 64.7% and 11.1%, respectively, had been given blood transfusions. The prevalences of HGV RNA and anti-HCV significantly increased with the duration of hemodialysis. Of all HGV RNA positives, 74.4% were coinfected with HCV and subjects with HGV RNA alone had normal liver function. In conclusion, HGV is transmitted by blood transfusion and within the hemodialysis unit itself. HGV does not seem to injure hepatocytes.
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