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Hepatitis D (HDV)
The hepatitis delta virus (HDV) is a unique incomplete RNA virus that requires a helper virus (HBV) to replicate. Hepatitis B surface antigen provides the outer coat for HDV.
Hepatitis D infection can either occur simultaneously with acute infection with HBV or occur as a superinfection in patients who already have chronic hepatitis B. Infection with HDV may be acute and short lived or become chronic. Superinfection often causes fulminant hepatitis, and combined hepatitis B and D virus infections have a worse prognosis than hepatitis B.
In the United States, delta hepatitis occurs most often in parenteral drug users, homosexual men, and hemophiliacs. Anti-HDV is found in the serum of patients with acute and chronic infections.
Therapy with IFN alfa may temporarily alleviate delta hepatitis, but relapse is common after treatment is stopped.
ACP Library on Disk 2- (c) 1997 - American College of Physicians
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