Everything you need to know about hepatitis D

Liver Health

Emily Condon
BSc (Hons) Biological Sciences

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What is hepatitis D?

Hepatitis D is caused by the hepatitis D virus (HDV). HDV is unique in the fact that the virus can only develop in those who have hepatitis B as it requires the hepatitis B virus to replicate in the body.  Learn more about hepatitis B.

Similar to HBV, HDV is transmitted through contact with the blood or other body fluids of an infected individual. Hepatitis D can either be acute or chronic. At this time there is no vaccine or cure for hepatitis D but it can be prevented by hepatitis B immunisation. 

What are the symptoms of hepatitis D?

If symptoms do develop they can include the following:

  • Yellowing of the eyes and skin (jaundice)
  • Fatigue
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Pale stools
  • Dark urine 
  • Unexplained weight loss 
  • Joint and muscle pains
  • Abdominal pain
  • Loss of appetite 

How is hepatitis D diagnosed?

Because HDV requires the HBV to be present in order to replicate in the body, testing for HDV is usually only completed after a positive hepatitis B result. A hepatitis delta antibody blood test is used to see if an individual has been exposed to the hepatitis D virus.

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