Viral hepatitis in the 1990s, part II: hepatitis B and delta virus

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Parenterally shared blood and sexual transmission are the main routes of spread of hepatitis B in the United States. Most cases resolve spontaneously without specific treatment. Passive immunization provides temporary protection in certain postexposure settings. Active immunization achieves high protection rates. Duration of protection and the need for booster doses are not well defined. Many cases of fulminant B hepatitis, severe chronic active hepatitis, and end-stage cirrhosis secondary to hepatitis B are due to hepatitis delta virus infection. The delta virus requires the presence of hepatitis B for expression of disease. Hepatitis B prophylaxis should help eliminate delta hepatitis.



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