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A method is described for identifying different genotypes of hepatitis C virus (HCV) by restriction endonuclease cleavage of sequences amplified by PCR from the 5' non-coding region. Using the enzymes HaeIII-RsaI and HinfI-MvaI, followed by cleavage with BstU1 or ScrFI, it was possible to identify and distinguish HCV genotypes 1a, 1b, 2a, 2b, 3a, 3b, 4, 5 and 6. The method was used to investigate the prevalence of these genotypes in 723 blood donors in 15 countries, the largest survey to date, and one which covered a wide range of geographical regions (Europe, America, Africa and Asia). These results, combined with a review of the existing literature, indicate the existence of several distinct regional patterns of HCV genotype distribution, and provide the framework for future detailed epidemiological investigations of HCV transmission.

Original publication




Journal article


J Gen Virol

Publication Date



76 ( Pt 5)


1197 - 1204


Blood Donors, Genotype, Hepacivirus, Humans, Polymerase Chain Reaction, Polymorphism, Restriction Fragment Length