What is Hepatitis D?
Hepatitis D virus (HDV) infections occur only in those who are infected with HBV- the virus is dependent on the hepatitis B virus for replication. This duality however often results in a more serious infection with worse outcomes. The vaccine for HBV provides protection from HDV also.
The risk of getting hepatitis D increases if you:
- If you have risk factors for hepatitis B.
- Have hepatitis B.
- Are a man who has sex with other men.
- Use unsterilized needles for intravenous (IV) drugs.
An infected person with hepatitis D can infect others even before symptoms appear. The routes of hepatitis D virus transmission are the same with hepatitis B virus. It can be transmitted through:
- Vaginal fluids.
- From infected mother to her newborn
What are the Symptoms Seen In Hepatitis D infection?
The symptoms of hepatitis B and hepatitis D are very similar. Hepatitis D can make the symptoms of hepatitis B worse and as such, can cause symptoms in people who have hepatitis B but who never had symptoms. Symptoms include:
- Yellowing of the skin and eyes (Jaundice).
- Joint pain.
- Abdominal pain.
- Loss of appetite.
- Dark urine.
Hepatitis D infection can lead to scarring of the liver, liver failure, and liver cancer.
How Is Hepatitis D Diagnosed?
Hepatitis D is diagnosed after a proper consultation, examination and blood tests.
How is Hepatitis D treated?
There is no specific treatment for Hepatitis D virus infection. However, antiviral agents used to treat Hepatitis B are used to treat Hepatitis D infection due to their nature.
How can Hepatitis D be prevented?
Prevention and control of Hepatitis D virus infection require prevention of HBV transmission which is achieved through:
- Hepatitis B immunization.
- Practicing safer sex.
- Stopping the use unsterilized needles.
Article By: Dr. Leke Odufuye