Updated
July 16th, 2019

42% of Hepatitis B Patients May Also Have Hepatitis D

Hepatitis D virus can be prevented in people who are not already HBV-infected with hepatitis B vaccination

snowball fight

A recent Johns Hopkins University study reported that the prevalence of hepatitis D is “significantly higher” than previously acknowledged. 

This new study found 42 percent of adults with hepatitis B virus were coinfected with hepatitis D. 

And, most of these individuals were unaware of their hepatitis D infection, since the hepatitis D virus is uncommon in the United States, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).   

It’s so uncommon, the CDC does not report on the number of hepatitis D cases.   

Which suggests an expanded testing need among people with confirmed hepatitis B, concluded these researchers. 

This is important news since there is not a preventive vaccine available for hepatitis D. 

This study of Americans over the age of 18 years, between 2011–2016, found the prevalence of hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) was 0.36% overall. 

Among adult HBsAg-carriers, 42 percent (95% confidence interval: 29%-56%) had antibodies to hepatitis D virus. 

Additionally, this study also found that B/D coinfected adults had 30 percent higher serological markers associated with liver disease. 

Previously in 2017, an analysis from two longitudinal patient databases showed an expanding number of newly diagnosed HDV. 

"Results from this ICD-10 analysis indicate that only 4.7 percent of chronic HBV patients are tested for HDV co-infection, even though this represents a 30 percent increase in HDV testing in 2016 versus 2012,” said Eduardo B. Martins, MD, Senior Vice President of Liver and Infectious Diseases Development at Eiger BioPharmaceuticals, Inc. 

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Hepatitis D virus (HDV) only occurs in people who are infected with the hepatitis B virus, because HDV is an incomplete virus that requires the helper function of HBV to replicate, says the CDC. 

HDV can be an acute, short-term, infection or a long-term, chronic infection. 

Hepatitis D is transmitted through percutaneous or mucosal contact with infectious blood and can be acquired either as a coinfection with HBV or as a superinfection in people with HBV infection. 

The CDC says hepatitis D can be prevented in people who are not already infected by hepatitis B, with a hepatitis B vaccine. 

In the USA, there are 3 single-antigen vaccines and 2 combination HBV vaccines available: 

Single-antigen hepatitis B vaccines:

Combination vaccines:

To schedule a vaccination appointment at a local pharmacy, please click here.

The CDC Vaccine Price List provides current vaccine contract prices and general information, and vaccine discounts can be found here.

Vaccines, like any medicine, can have side effects, says the CDC. You are encouraged to report negative side effects of vaccines to the FDA or CDC.