Diagnosing and Screening for Hepatitis D Viral Infection
Hepatitis delta virus (HDV) infection causes the most virulent form of viral hepatitis and occurs in some patients chronically infected with hepatitis B virus (HBV). Antiviral therapies used for HBV and hepatitis C virus (HCV) are not effective against HDV, and interferon is partially effective with 1-20% maintained viral response (MVR) viral clearance, further exacerbating poor outcomes in HDV patients. Despite increased morbidity and mortality, screening for HDV is limited due to perceptions of low prevalence, historically limited access to testing, and poor awareness and lack of medications for treatment. Recent epidemiological studies reveal that HDV prevalence is increasing in areas of historically low prevalence, creating urgency for the implementation of widespread HDV screening and awareness. Emerging therapies have shown promise in treating HDV and further reinforce the need for increased HDV screening in individuals with chronic HBV infection.