Hepatitis Delta Virus: A Silent Threat to People Who Inject Drugs

Author: Beatrice Zovich

Theme: Models of Care Year: 2022

Hepatitis delta virus (HDV), a co-infection of hepatitis B virus (HBV), results in the most severe form of
viral hepatitis known to humans and poses an increased risk of progression to liver cirrhosis and cancer
than HBV alone. Due to general lack of patient and provider awareness, limited access to testing, and a
historical dearth of viable treatments, HDV is significantly under-diagnosed. People who inject drugs
face increased risk for HBV/HDV co-infection, and studies show increasing infection rates within this
community in recent years.
Description of Intervention:
Given the heightened risk of HDV for those who inject drugs, integration of HDV as a priority infectious
disease into harm reduction and addiction services settings is of utmost importance. Hepatitis Delta
Connect is a community- and provider-focused education program that provides patient support and inlanguage information about HDV disease risk, prevention, testing, and linkage to care, and serves as an
advocacy platform for prioritization of HDV as an under-appreciated viral infection.
Since 2016, Hepatitis Delta Connect has educated 13,000 people in 111 countries and has partnered
with different community-based organizations to integrate hepatitis delta education into existing
hepatitis B programs. The primary challenges in implementation include low awareness, funding
constraints, and limited access to testing and treatment.
Conclusion and Next Steps:
Hep Delta Connect contributes to greater HDV awareness, testing, and surveillance, and can aid in the
creation of standardized global screening guidelines. This presentation will describe how HDV services
can be incorporated into existing harm reduction programs, an important first step to curbing the HDV
epidemic and saving lives.
Disclosure of Interest Statement:
The Hepatitis B Foundation receives unrestricted educational grants from industry to support Hep Delta
Connect. Ms. Zovich and Dr. Cohen participated in the Hepatitis Delta Community Advisory Council
sponsored by Gilead Sciences, Inc.

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