GB virus C (GBV-C) is a common, non-pathogenic human virus that infects lymphocytes. Persistent GBV-C infection of humans with coexistent human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection is associated with prolonged survival, and GBV-C replication inhibits HIV replication . A GBV-C virus variant was identified in chimpanzees in 1998 and was named GBV-C or GBV-C. The prevalence and natural history of GBV-C in chimpanzees remains uncharacterized. We examined the sera from 235 captive chimpanzees for the presence of GBV-C viraemia, viral persistence and clearance, E2 antibody kinetics and RNA sequence diversity. Sequences from six isolates shared more sequence identity with GBV-C than with human GBV-C. The prevalence of GBV-C viraemia and E2 antibody in chimpanzees (2.5 and 11 %, respectively) was similar to human GBV-C prevalence in healthy human blood donors (1.8 and 9 %, respectively). Persistent GBV-C infection occurred in two of the six viraemic animals and was documented for 19 years in one animal. Host subspecies GBV-C isolates and published GBV-C isolates shared a high degree of sequence identity, suggesting that GBV-C in chimpanzees should be identified with a chimpanzee designation (GBV-C). The prevalence and natural history of chimpanzee GBV-C variant (GBV-C) appears to be similar to human GBV-C infection. The chimpanzee could serve as an animal model to study HIV–GBV-C co-infection.


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