Alternate Names : Hepatitis Delta
Hepatitis D is an infection and inflammation of the liver caused by the
hepatitis D virus. It is one of several types of hepatitis. The hepatitis D virus needs the hepatitis B
virus to be present to cause an infection. These 2 viruses may be acquired at
the same time. Also, a person may already have a chronic hepatitis B
infection, then catch hepatitis D.
What is going on in the body?
The liver is an important organ located in the upper right quadrant
of the abdomen. It is responsible for:
filtering the blood
making bile, a substance that aids in digestion and helps rid the body of
processing fats and sugars, helping the body store energy for later
making important proteins, such as those involved in blood clotting
metabolizing many medications, such as barbiturates, sedatives, and
storing vitamins A, B12,
D, and several of the B-complex vitamins. The liver also
stores iron and copper.
Infection of the liver by a virus can cause hepatitis, which is a
term that means inflammation of the liver. Hepatitis can interfere with normal
liver functions. Hepatitis that comes on quickly and is severe is called
acute hepatitis. Hepatitis that develops slowly and lasts a long time is
called chronic hepatitis.
Hepatitis D can damage the liver:
through direct liver cell damage
through inflammation, which is caused by the immune system attacking the
Someone who does not have hepatitis B or who is immune to the B virus is
protected from the hepatitis D virus.
What are the causes and risks of the infection?
Hepatitis D and hepatitis B are spread through exposure to infected blood and
by sexual intercourse. People at risk include those who:
puncture themselves with contaminated needles and syringes, such as
intravenous drug abusers or healthcare workers
are stuck with contaminated needles during tattooing, acupuncture, or body piercing
are sexually promiscuous, whether homosexual or heterosexual
have had an organ transplant or
blood transfusion, though blood is now
screened for hepatitis B to prevent this form of transmission
Each year, fewer cases are reported due to use of the hepatitis B
vaccine. Those who receive the hepatitis B vaccine do not usually
catch hepatitis D, even if exposed to it.