Hepatitis D is a liver disease caused by the hepatitis D virus. The hepatitis D virus can only infect a person who also has hepatitis B. Hepatitis D can result in an acute (new) or chronic (long-term) infection.
Hepatitis D only occurs in people with hepatitis B virus infection. A person can get both viruses at the same time, or a person who has hepatitis B can get infected with hepatitis D virus.
The hepatitis D virus is spread when blood or other body fluids from an infected person enter the body of a person who has never been infected. Hepatitis D virus can be spread from contact with contaminated needles and/or syringes (“works”), having sex with an infected person without wearing a condom, and from an infected mother to her baby during birth. Hepatitis D virus is not spread by casual contact (such as shaking hands, talking, sneezing, coughing, kissing or hugging, or sharing eating utensils or drinking glasses).
The symptoms of hepatitis D are similar to hepatitis B and may include fatigue (feeling tired), poor appetite, fever, nausea, and vomiting. Some people may have dark urine, joint pain, or jaundice (yellowish skin and whites of the eyes).
The symptoms usually appear within two to eight weeks after infection. For how long is an infected person able to spread the virus? An infected person can spread the virus any time they have the infection.
Yes. If a person is infected with hepatitis D virus, and then recovers, he or she is immune (protected) for life and does not continue to carry the hepatitis D virus. A person who has recovered from hepatitis D cannot transmit the virus to someone else. However, some people who become infected with hepatitis D virus will become chronically infected (they do not clear the virus from their body). Infection with hepatitis D virus will not protect a person from getting other types of hepatitis viruses.
Hepatitis D is diagnosed by a blood test.
There are no special medicines that can be used to treat a person with hepatitis D. People who have this infection should be evaluated by a medical provider to determine care options. Persons with hepatitis D should avoid alcohol and consult with their medical provider regarding the use of prescription or over-thecounter medications.
Injection drug users should not share needles, syringes or works. Consistent condom use can prevent transmission of hepatitis B and D viruses. Because hepatitis D can only occur in a person with hepatitis B, getting the hepatitis B vaccine can prevent hepatitis D.