Infectious Diseases

Hepatitis D: Facts

Hepatitis D is a viral disease of the liver by the hepatitis D virus (HDV), the disease is common in people already infected the hepatitis B virus (HBV) and the presence of HDV complicates HBV disease leading to worst possible outcomes. Hepatitis D viral disease is common in most parts of Africa as well as Europe, Middle East and South America.

Hepatitis D virus is considered to be a subviral satellite because it can only propagate in the presence of hepatitis B virus. Transmission of hepatitis D virus can occur either via simultaneous infection with hepatitis B virus (in which case it is called co-infection) or superimposed on chronic hepatitis B infection or hepatitis B carrier state (in which case it is referred to as super infection). In combination with hepatitis B virus, hepatitis D infection has the highest fatality rate of all the other hepatitis infections.

Both super infection and co-infection with hepatitis D virus results in more sever complications which include greater likelihood of experiencing liver failure and rapid progression to liver cirrhosis,  as compared to hepatitis B virus alone


Facts on Hepatitis D



  • Hepatitis D infections occur only in those who are infected with the hepatitis B virus.
  • Hepatitis D makes hepatitis B infection a more serious disease with poor prognosis.
  • Transmission requires contact with infectious blood or body fluids (sweats) of an infected person.
  • At the moment there are no treatment, but hepatitis B vaccines provide protection from hepatitis D infection.
  • Hepatitis B vaccination is recommended for infants and those at a higher risk of acquiring hepatitis B or other severe infections, including health care workers.
  • Baby of an infected mother, intravenous drug users and men who have sex with men are also at risk of hepatitis D.
  • Basically, no symptoms but when they do, symptoms may be similar to those of HBV and may include fatigue, nausea or vomiting, anorexia, joint pains and pain around the abdomen.
  • Save sex practice, acquiring own razors, careful handling of blood samples can also help prevent hepatitis D spread.



The route of transmission are similar to those of hepatitis B. The infection is largely restricted to people at high risk of hepatitis B infection, particularly individuals that inject drugs.


Treatment and Prevention 

Pegylated alpha interferon has been shown to be effective in reducing the viral load of hepatitis D and the effect of the disease, although these benefits generally stops when the drug is discontinued.

The vaccination for hepatitis B automatically protects against hepatitis D and preventive measures for contacting the virus should be taken.