HGV: The identification, biology and prevalence of an orphan virus

M. Jeffrey Mphahlele, George K.K. Lau, William F. Carman*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)


Hepatitis G virus (HGV) and GB virus C (GBV-C) (both hereinafter referred to as HGV) were independently identified in patients with hepatitis of unknown aetiology. HGV is a positive-sense RNA virus of the family Flaviviridae. The virus can establish both acute and chronic infection and appears to be sensitive to interferon. Horizontal transmission is mainly parenteral, although other routes such as vertical have been well documented. High risk groups include intravenous drug users (IVDUs), the multiply transfused, haemodialysis patients and haemophiliacs. Up to 90% of IVDUs are positive for either HGV-RNA or antibodies to HGV envelope-2 protein (anti-E2). HGV is frequently detected in patients with HBV and HCV infection. Its link to hepatitis has now become less certain. Only around 3-6% of non-A-E hepatitis cases are HGV viraemic, clearly showing that HGV is not the major cause of idiopathic hepatitis as originally hoped. Around 1-5% of volunteer blood donors in developed countries are HGV viraemic. but the prevalence is 10-20% in the general population in some developing countries. At present, it is not known whether HGV is associated with other diseases in humans, is a passenger virus, or only becomes virulent under certain conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)143-155
Number of pages13
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1998


  • Disease association
  • Epidemiology
  • GB virus C (GBV-C)
  • Hepatitis G virus (HGV)
  • Prevalence


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