Hepatitis D is a viral hepatitis that affects the liver and is caused by the hepatitis D virus, or HDV. HDV can only infect people who have hepatitis B, but it is important to remember that not all people with hepatitis B will know they have the condition because they may not have symptoms. An infection with HDV makes the symptoms of hepatitis B worse and increases liver damage. Symptoms may include sudden fever, extreme tiredness, nausea, lack of appetite, stomach pain, and jaundice (yellowing of the skin). HDV does not always cause symptoms. Most people infected with HDV recover within a month. About 10% of people infected with HDV develop a chronic infection. Chronic HDV infection may cause chronic active hepatitis leading to permanent liver scarring (cirrhosis) and liver failure. HDV is spread through contact with infected blood. Common ways of to become infected with HDV include sharing of infected needles, having sexual contact with a person infected by HDV, and from mother to child during childbirth if the mother is infected with HDV. Hepatitis D is diagnosed through blood tests and possibly a liver biopsy.
A vaccine is available to prevent HBV infection which there also will prevent HDV infection. If the condition becomes chronic, there are treatments available to help slow the damage to the liver but there is no cure at this time. HDV infections are diagnosed through blood tests and possibly liver biopsies. Talk with your doctor if you or a family member has been diagnosed with hepatitis D. Support groups are also good resources of support and information. See also Hepatitis B.