Hepatitis delta: epidemiology, diagnosis and management 36 years after discovery

Curr Gastroenterol Rep. 2014 Jan;16(1):365. doi: 10.1007/s11894-013-0365-x.


With recent studies showing increased prevalence of hepatitis delta (HDV) even in the US, Australia, and some countries in Europe, and very high prevalence in endemic regions, HDV infection is far from being a disappearing disease. Although immigrants from endemic countries have been shown to have increased risk, studies have clearly shown that the disease is not solely appearing in traditional high-risk groups. Recent studies provide increasing evidence that sexual transmission may be an important factor in HDV infection spread. Based on the totality of evidence showing increased disease progression and substantially increased risk of cirrhosis in HDV-infected CHB patients, and the current studies showing higher than expected prevalence, it is time to call for HDV screening of all CHB patients. HDV viral load detection and measurement should be considered in all patients whether or not they are anti-HDV-positive. With universal screening of CHB patients for HDV, earlier diagnosis and consideration of treatment would be possible. Current treatment of HDV is IFN-based therapy with or without HBV antivirals, but current research indicates the possibility that prenylation inhibitors, entry inhibitors, HBsAg release inhibitors, or other therapies currently in the pipeline may provide more effective therapy in the future. In addition, universal screening would serve the important public health goal of allowing patients to be educated on their status and on the need for HDV-negative patients to protect themselves against superinfection and for HDV-infected patients to protect against transmission to others. Further studies and global awareness of HDV infection are needed.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antiviral Agents / therapeutic use
  • Hepatitis D / diagnosis*
  • Hepatitis D / drug therapy*
  • Hepatitis D / epidemiology
  • Hepatitis D / transmission
  • Hepatitis Delta Virus / isolation & purification
  • Humans
  • Interferon-alpha / therapeutic use
  • Prevalence
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Antiviral Agents
  • Interferon-alpha