In a study published in the Journal of Hepatology, Professor Anna Maria Geretti and Dr Alexander Stockdale from the University of Liverpool (United Kingdom), in collaboration with researchers from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), estimate that worldwide, hepatitis D virus (HDV) affects nearly 5% of people who have a chronic infection with hepatitis B virus (HBV), and that HDV co-infection could explain about 1 in 5 cases of liver disease and liver cancer in people with HBV infection.
To map the epidemiology of HDV infection in the world, Professor Geretti and Dr Stockdale joined forces with the WHO Global Hepatitis Programme and IARC, alongside investigators in Germany, Malawi, and the United Kingdom. The findings from this study inform research on the association between viral infections and cancer, which enables improved prevention strategies.
HDV (formerly known as the Delta agent) is a small virus – one of the smallest that is known to cause disease in humans – and can replicate only in the presence of HBV, from which HDV borrows some of its structures. Compared with people with HBV infection alone, those who have a chronic infection with both HBV and HDV have a much higher risk of developing disease in the form of cirrhosis and liver cancer.
Stockdale AJ, Kreuels B, Henrion MYR, Giorgi E, Kyomuhangi I, de Martel C, et al.
The global prevalence of hepatitis D virus infection: systematic review and meta-analysis
J Hepatol, Published online 23 April 2020;