1Concord Repatriation General Hospital, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW 2139, Australia.
2Hepatitis B Free, Sydney, NSW 2139, Australia.
3Westmead Hospital, Sydney, NSW 2139, Australia.
Hepatitis D is the smallest virus known to infect humans, the most aggressive, causing the most severe disease. It is considered a satellite or defective virus requiring the hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) for its replication with approximately 10-70 million persons infected. Elimination of hepatitis D is, therefore, closely tied to hepatitis B elimination. There is a paucity of quality data in many resource-poor areas. Despite its aggressive natural history, treatment options for hepatitis D to date have been limited and, in many places, inaccessible. For decades, Pegylated interferon alpha (Peg IFN α) offered limited response rates (20%) where available. Developments in understanding viral replication pathways has meant that, for the first time in over three decades, specific therapy has been licensed for use in Europe. Bulevirtide (Hepcludex®) is an entry inhibitor approved for use in patients with confirmed viraemia and compensated disease. It can be combined with Peg IFN α and/or nucleos(t)ide analogue for hepatitis B. Early reports suggest response rates of over 50% with good tolerability profile. Additional agents showing promise include the prenylation inhibitor lonafarnib, inhibitors of viral release (nucleic acid polymers) and better tolerated Peg IFN lambda (λ). These agents remain out of reach for most resource limited areas where access to new therapies are delayed by decades. strategies to facilitate access to care for the most vulnerable should be actively sought by all stakeholders.