Hepatitis Delta (HDV) is one of several infections that can cause damage to the liver. (Others include hepatitis A, B, C). HDV harms liver cells causing inflammation (swelling). This swelling interferes with the normal function of the organ. Progression of the disease leads to severe hardening (fibrosis) and scarring (cirrhosis) of the liver and can lead to liver failure.
HDV is known as a “satellite virus” or an “incomplete virus” because it can only infect people who are also infected with the hepatitis B virus.
The complicating factor of HDV is that it quickens the progression of liver damage to earlier development of decompensation (worsening symptoms), cirrhosis, and, in some cases, liver cancer.
Signs of HDV begin to occur one to two months following the initial exposure. The symptoms are similar to those of other viral hepatitis infections:
A simple blood test is used to first diagnose HBV. If a person tests positive, an additional blood test is used to determine if HDV is present. The American Association for the Study of Liver Disease (AASLD) suggests a total antibody test for those with chronic HBV who are at a high risk.
It is important to be tested for HDV because the presence of this virus will require alternate treatment options.
The primary treatment for HDV is a medication called pegylated interferon. Currently, it is helpful for about 30% of cases. Additional medications are being developed and tested.
As HDV is dependent upon the HBV virus, the best way to prevent infection with Hepatitis B virus is by getting the Hepatitis B virus vaccine. It stimulates the body’s natural immune system to make antibodies – a substance found in the blood that protects you from disease, in this case, against the Hepatitis B virus.
You can reduce your risk of getting the Hepatitis B virus, and possibly the Hepatitis D virus by taking the following precautions:
Yes, there are clinical trials available for those with Hepatitis D.
Clinical trials are research studies that test how well new medical approaches work in people. Before an experimental treatment for any disease can be tested on human subjects in a clinical trial, it first must show benefit in laboratory testing or animal research studies. Only the most promising treatments are then moved into clinical trials, with the goal of identifying new ways to safely and effectively prevent, screen for, diagnose, or treat disease.
The following websites include information about clinical trials. Always consult with your physician before signing up for a clinical trial.
Last updated on November 10th, 2022 at 12:12 pm