Hepatitis D

Transmission and prevention

Hepatitis D is mainly transmitted through blood-to-blood contact.

Only people with hepatitis B can have hepatitis D. However, some people are infected with both viruses at the same time (simultaneous infection). There is a risk of infection for: people who have multiple sexual partners; healthcare workers who have contact with blood or blood products; infants of mothers who have the viruses; people who share needles, syringes or other equipment to use drugs. ‘Superinfection’, when a person has chronic hepatitis B virus and then becomes infected with hepatitis D, is particularly dangerous. In this case the liver is often damaged faster than if someone becomes infected with both viruses at the same time.

If someone is successfully vaccinated against hepatitis B, they are also protected against contracting hepatitis D. Other ways to protect yourself include safer sex and using protective gloves when in contact with blood. Any spilled blood should be cleaned with disinfectant. Don’t share objects that may have traces of blood on them, such as razors, needles or toothbrushes.

Glossary

superinfection

When somebody who already has a viral infection is exposed to a different strain or a different virus, and acquires it in addition to their existing virus. For example a person with hepatitis C is infected with a different strain of hepatitis C, or a person with chronic hepatitis B is infected with hepatitis D.

This information is provided by Deutsche Leberhilfe e.V.