Hepatitis G is a single-stranded RNA virus and a blood-borne pathogen. Hepatitis G is similar to hepatitis C, but also distinctly different. Between 2-5% of the general population are carriers of the hepatitis G virus. It usually takes 3-20 weeks for the virus to incubate within the body.
The hepatitis G virus causes up to 9 years of infection in 15-30% of adults. A large portion of those infected are able to clear the virus on their own. It is often seen as a co-infection with other viruses such as hepatitis C, hepatitis B, and HIV. There is little evidence to suggest that hepatitis G causes serious liver disease at any age.
Those who receive infected blood (including hemodialysis patients), IV drug users, those with impaired immune response, and those engaging in risky behaviors such as unprotected sex or receiving tattoos or piercings from unsterilized equipment are at high risk for developing hepatitis G.
Unlike other forms of hepatitis, Hepatitis G does not cause symptoms. In some cases, a vague sense of feeling unwell (malaise), may be present in those infected with the hepatitis G virus.
Usually the infection is only discovered when an infected person has donated blood. Hepatitis G may also be diagnosed through a process of elimination when no other hepatitis virus is present or likely.
There is no specific treatment for the hepatitis G virus. Maintaining a nutritious diet, avoiding alcohol, and getting adequate rest are advised.
It is estimated that 1-2% of all blood donors in the U.S. have hepatitis G at any given time. The actual incidence is much higher, but exact numbers are unknown.