The number of people newly diagnosed with Hepatitis Delta virus (HDV) infection in the United States is increasing. Furthermore, the incidence of HDV co-infection among chronic Hepatitis B virus (HBV) patients also is rising nationwide.
These alarming conclusions come from data from an International Classification of Diseases (ICD) analysis presented by Eiger BioPharmaceuticals at the 2017 Digestive Disease Week, held in Chicago, Illinois, May 6-9.
“Hepatitis Delta is the most aggressive form of viral hepatitis, and due to the absence of an approved therapy, testing for hepatitis delta infection has been limited historically,” Eduardo B. Martins, MD, senior vice president of liver and infectious diseases development at Eiger, said in a press release.
“Results from this ICD-10 analysis indicate that only 4.7% of chronic HBV patients are tested for HDV co-infection, even though this represents a 30% increase in HDV testing in 2016 versus 2012. Our data support the need for increasing awareness and diagnosis of hepatitis delta infection.” Martins added.
HDV occurs only as a co-infection in individuals infected with HBV. HDV causes more severe liver disease than HBV alone, and is linked to accelerated liver fibrosis, liver cancer, and liver failure.
In the study “Prevalence of Hepatitis Delta Virus (HDV) Infection in the United States: Results from an ICD-10 Review,” published last month in the journal Gastroenterology, Martins and Jeffrey Glenn conducted a U.S.-specific assessment of medical claims between 2006 and 2015 for HBV/HDV co-infection, and HBV without HDV co-infection.
Between 2006 and 2014, the database contained 118,867 unique individual cases of HBV mono-infection and 14,711 individual cases of HBV/HDV co-infection, a prevalence rate of 12.3%. Between October-December 2015, the prevalence rate was 5.6% (583 HBV/HDV co-infection; 10,333 HBV mono-infection).
According to the results from the study, more than 11.8% of those infected with chronic HBV also may have HDV. Of note, researchers found that only a small percentage of those with chronic HBV (4.7%) are being tested for HDV co-infection.
The results showed that an increase in HDV testing among people infected with HBV can significantly increase the numbers of detected HDV/HBV co-infection cases in the U.S.
Researchers also emphasized that clinicians should be aware of the growing footprint associated with the HDV patient population and the potential for undiagnosed HDV cases.
The team concluded that the findings highlight the need for more HDV testing among patients infected with HBV. In the U.S., HDV testing is available through commercial laboratories.