Worst form of hepatitis D an ’emerging problem’ and difficult to treat

Tuesday, July 25, 2023 at 5:19 pm

Hepatitis D is the most serious form of viral hepatitis because infection can lead to serious liver problems (such as decompensation, cirrhosis, or hepatocellular carcinoma). In fact, the only hepatitis D treatment currently available in Spain is interferon, a drug that can only successfully suppress viral activity in a small number of treated patients and causes many side effects.

However, new pharmacological advances with greater efficacy and tolerability for this disease, such as bulevirtide, a drug that has been authorized by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) but not yet by the Spanish Agency for Medicines and Healthcare Products (AEMPS) antiviral drugs, see Marta Casado is a digestive specialist at the University Hospital of Torre Cardenas (Almeria).

For all these reasons, the experts from Almeria argue that it is necessary to develop screening strategies with technologies such as One Step Diagnostics, a simple test to detect hepatitis D in all hepatitis B patients.

“Currently this type of screening is performed on only 18% of patients with hepatitis B when it should be done on 100% of patients. We must be aware that hepatitis D is still underdiagnosed in Spain because in our country There are still patients infected with the disease, but because no screening is done, we don’t know if they are infected. For all these reasons, the autonomous community must have the necessary tools to carry out the diagnosis step by step,” said the expert.

Overall, experts agree that gastroenterologists play an important role in slowing the progression of viral hepatitis through proper diagnosis (through screening tests that allow for early detection) and subsequent treatment. in this group of patients.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that viral hepatitis, primarily hepatitis B and C, causes more than 1.5 million new infections worldwide each year. The World Health Organization’s hepatitis strategy seeks to reduce new infections by 90% and deaths by 65% ​​by 2030.

Viral hepatitis (the main strains are A, B, C, D, and E) can cause inflammation of the liver and become a serious health problem. In fact, the World Health Organization estimates that 78% of cases of primary liver cancer and 57% of cases of cirrhosis are caused by viral hepatitis infection, especially infection with the B or C virus.

In general, hepatitis B, C, and D do not cause symptoms until very advanced stages, and the main route of infection is through parenteral transmission and/or risky sexual behaviour.

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