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Hepatitis D only affects people who are already infected with hepatitis B, because the hepatitis D virus needs the Hepatitis B virus to survive in the body.

Up to 10% of Hepatitis B virus carriers have anti-hepatitis D virus antibodies.

Hepatitis D virus is uncommon in the UK and is more widespread in certain parts of Europe, the Middle East, Africa and South America.

If someone has a long-term infection with hepatitis D and hepatitis B it can increase their risk of developing serious medical problems such as cirrhosis or liver cancer.

Co-infection with hepatitis D and B viruses rarely lead to chronic disease, but fulminant hepatitis is more likely than with hepatitis B virus alone.

Fulminant hepatitis is a rare syndrome of massive necrosis of the liver and a decrease in the size of the liver that usually occurs after infection with certain hepatitis viruses.

If someone has both hepatitis B and D viruses, this worsens the patient prognosis. It will make the condition worse in an otherwise healthy carrier and even mild hepatitis can become full-blown.  There is also an increased risk of chronic progressive disease, often terminating in cirrhosis.

There is no vaccine specifically for hepatitis D, but the hepatitis B vaccine can help protect against, so this is the form that prevention takes.