Introduction. Hepatitis delta virus (HDV) is a small, defective RNA virus that is related more to plant viroids than to other human pathogens.
Material and methods. Nearly 50 research articles from various sources were reviewed and a comprehensive analysis was done regarding various parameters concerning HDV. Articles published over a period of 30 years were selected based on their experimental and statistical relevance to HDV. This review gives a brief insight into epidemiology, genetics, clinical evolution and treatment of chronic hepatitis delta.
Results. Chronic hepatitis delta remains a major cause of morbidity in Eastern European countries and the Mediterranean region. At the same time, there is a resurgence of HBV and HDV infection in young people (under the age of 50) in Western Europe, as a consequence of the intra-familial and sexual mode of acquisition among immigrants from Eastern Europe, the Mediterranean region and from countries of the former Soviet Union, Africa high burdened regions of Asia and South America. Prevalence among IVDU was found to be higher especially in western european countries and other regions of low HDV prevalence. Chronic delta viral hepatitis is a dynamic, progressive process. A direct cytopathic pattern of liver tissue damage was also observed, especially in the presence of HDV genotype 3. Chronic hepatitis D is reported to progress to cirrhosis and hepatocellular cancer, and this trend is greater the higher the level of HDV viremia at the time of presentation.
Conclusions. Flaws in screening and on-time diagnosis still remain due to the insufficient research and data available. While still not classified as a carcinogen by IARC, our review ends up in support of the notion that HDV infection increases the chances and fastens the pathogenic processes leading to HCC.
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