Hepatitis D is transmitted in the same way as hepatitis B and much like hepatitis C. See risk factors. While there is no vaccine for hepatitis D directly, be proactive and receive the vaccine for hepatitis B to reduce your chances of infection with Hepatitis D.

There are 5 types of hepatitis, A, B, C, D, and E. The most common types of hepatitis in the United States are hepatitis A, B, and C. Hepatitis D and E are not as prevalent in the United States but can certainly occur.

More cases of hepatitis D are reported in:

  • South America
  • West Africa
  • Russia
  • Pacific Islands
  • Central Asia
  • Mediterranean

Transmission Causes

Hepatitis D spreads the same way hepatitis B spreads, through contact with infected blood or an infected person’s body fluids. The hepatitis D virus can cause an acute (short term-less than 6 months) or lead to a chronic infection (long-lasting). Hepatitis D can lead to severe scarring (cirrhosis) of the liver, risk of liver cancer, and other extrahepatic conditions.

Additional Transmission Risks:

  • Contact with an infected person’s blood or other body fluids, such as semen, vaginal fluid, and urine.
  • If you’ve had a blood or blood type transfusion or organ transplant prior to July 1992.
  • Received a clotting factor made before 1987.
  • Ever had hemodialysis.
  • Contaminated needle stick or blood in a hospital or healthcare environment.
  • Shared needles or other equipment to inject drugs or inhales drugs (even once).
  • Tattoos or body piercing with reused unsterile tools.
  • Have ever worked or been housed in prison.
  • Have HIV (human immunodeficiency virus).
  • Unexplained liver problems or inflammation, including abnormal liver tests
  • Shared razors, toothbrushes, nail clippers with someone who is infected
  • Born to an infected Mother
  • Multiple sex partners or sex with partners who have other sexually transmitted diseases, or rough sex.
  • High risk includes men who have sex with other men
  • Some people who do not have risk factors may never know where they contracted the virus.


Symptoms do not always show up right away with hepatitis D even though the patient may have a chronic infection. Symptoms are much like that of hepatitis B and can include:

  • Yellowing of skin and eyes, called jaundice
  • Joint pain
  • Abdominal pain
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Dark Urine
  • Fatigue


Currently, there is no treatment for hepatitis D. Antiviral treatment has shown very little effect to treat or clear the virus. Being monitored by a liver specialist (hepatologist or gastroenterologist) is recommended.


The hepatitis B vaccine will help prevent hepatitis D. The vaccine can also be given to infants and children at risk for hepatitis B and D.

This entry was originally published in Life Beyond Hep C, and is reprinted with permission.