The prevalence of hepatitis G virus (HGV)-RNA and HGV-E2 antibodies was studied in a cohort of Dutch hemophilia patients in relation to clotting products used, age, and coinfection with hepatitis C. Between 1991 and 1995, blood samples were taken from 294 patients with hemophilia A, B, or von Willebrand disease. From each patient one fresh frozen sample was tested for HGV cDNA polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and HCV cDNA PCR. Alanine aminotransferase (ALT) tests were performed on plasma samples of all patients. The presence of HGV-E2 antibodies was tested on plasma samples from a subset of 169 patients representing all age groups. Based on the origin and viral safety of the products used, three subgroups of patients were distinguished. Group A: patients who used viral noninactivated factors derived from small and large donor pools; group B: patients who used factors prepared with inadequate viral inactivation techniques derived from small and large donor pools; and group C: patients treated only with optimally viral inactivated large pool clotting factor or recombinant clotting factor concentrate. The prevalence of HGV-RNA was 18%. In group A patients the prevalence was 71%, in group B 50%, and in group C 6%. When related to age, the highest prevalence of HGV-RNA (35%) was seen in patients born between 1980 and 1989. The prevalence of HGV-E2 antibodies increased with age. Of HGV-RNA-negative patients born before 1950, 96% tested positive. HGV viremia did not affect ALT levels, neither in HCV-RNA positive nor in HCV-RNA negative patients. HGV infection is frequently seen in patients with hemophilia. In older age groups a lower rate of HGV-RNA positivity is seen coinciding with a higher rate of antienvelope antibodies.
Copyright 1998 by The American Society of Hematology.