Absence of Hepatitis C Virus and Detection of Hepatitis G Virus/GB Virus C RNA Sequences in the Semen of Infected Men

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The identification of hepatitis C virus (HCV) in semen remains controversial and that of hepatitis G virus (HGV) or GB virus C (GBV-C) has never been investigated. Serum and semen from 90 anti-HCV-positive drug users were tested (27 infected with HIV) for HCV and HGV/GBV-C RNAs by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assay, hybridization, and sequence analysis. Semen was processed into round cells, seminal plasma, and spermatozoa. Fifty-six patients were HCV-viremic, but HCV-RNA was not identified in their seminal fractions. However, PCR inhibitors were found in the semen of 34 of these men. Twenty-eight patients had HGV/GBV-C RNA in their blood and for 24 of them, ejaculates were available for analysis. HGV/GBV-C RNA was found in the seminal plasma of 6 of 12 samples free from PCR inhibitors. These results agree with the low risk of sexual transfer of HCV and provide preliminary evidence for the presence of HGV/GBV-C in semen.

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