Hepatitis B and D

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Hepatitis B is a liver infection that can put you risk for cirrhosis, liver cancer, and liver failure. It also makes you susceptible to another serious form of hepatitis, hepatitis D. About one-third of people who have hepatitis B are not aware of it and do not have symptoms, even when it is affecting their long-term health. As recognized leaders in hepatitis diagnostic tools, research, and treatment, Duke hepatologists offer the latest treatments to prevent liver damage and related health problems.

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Acute and Chronic Hepatitis B, Hepatitis D

Hepatitis B and D are infections caused by viruses. The infections spread through contaminated blood and body fluids, including from mothers to their unborn children.

Short-Term Hepatitis B

Most cases of hepatitis B are short-lived (doctors call this acute hepatitis B) and may only require bedrest and extra fluids. Acute hepatitis B may not cause symptoms, or it may result in issues -- for instance, fatigue or abdominal pain -- that range from mild to severe. If you recover from acute hepatitis, you’re immune for the rest of your life. 

Long-Term Hepatitis B

Approximately 10% of people with acute hepatitis B develop the chronic -- or long-lasting -- form of the disease. Babies and children with acute hepatitis B are at higher risk for developing chronic hepatitis B. In fact, the younger you are when you get hepatitis B, the higher your risk of chronic infection. Symptoms may take years to appear, and people can be infected without knowing it. Sometimes chronic hepatitis B goes undetected for decades and is only diagnosed when serious liver disease is present.

Hepatitis D 

Hepatitis D -- the most serious form of hepatitis -- only occurs in people who are already infected with the hepatitis B virus. Most people with hepatitis D do not show symptoms at first. For others, hepatitis B symptoms may get worse. People can become infected with both viruses at the same time -- called coinfection -- or get hepatitis D after being infected with hepatitis B -- called superinfection. Having both forms of hepatitis can increase your risk for liver damage and liver cancer.

Our Locations

Duke Health offers locations throughout the Triangle. Find one near you.

Tests for Hepatitis B and D

If you think you have been exposed to hepatitis, it’s important to see your doctor promptly for testing. The sooner you are assessed and receive care, the lower your risk for serious health complications.

Blood Tests

A blood test can detect the hepatitis B and D viruses in your body and tell your doctor if hepatitis B is acute or chronic. It can also determine if you’ve already had hepatitis B and are now immune to it.

Liver Biopsy

Your doctor might remove a small sample of your liver for testing to check for liver damage. 


A noninvasive form of ultrasound called FibroScan can determine the extent of scarring within the liver, also known as fibrosis, that has resulted from a hepatitis B or D infection. 

Ultrasound and CT

Imaging tests may be used to screen for liver cancer in people with advanced scarring.

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Treatments for Hepatitis B and D

We help you manage hepatitis B and D, whether they are newly diagnosed or have progressed to the point where advanced treatment is necessary

Hepatitis B Vaccine

If you have been exposed to hepatitis B, your doctor may recommend a vaccination. When given within 24 hours of exposure, it can prevent hepatitis B infection. The vaccine has been available in the U.S. since 1991 for all newborns and is required for school entrance in many states. It is also recommended for people ages 59 and younger who have not been vaccinated and for adults age 60 years or older who are at increased risk for infection. 

Antiviral Medications

Duke offers the latest antivirals for hepatitis B. These medications, which are taken as a pill once a day, can stop or slow the reproduction of the hepatitis B virus. Currently, medications for treating hepatitis D are being tested and may soon be available. There are many types of antiviral medications available, and your doctor will determine which is best for you.

Immune Modulators 

These medications boost your immune system to help get rid of the hepatitis B virus. They are given as injections for six months to one year.

Liver Transplant 

A liver transplant may be the best option if you have severe liver damage or liver cancer. Your treatment team will carefully evaluate your condition to determine if this is the right option for you.

Why Choose Duke

Recognized Leaders
As recognized leaders in hepatitis research and treatment, we work with the latest hepatitis diagnostic tools and treatments. We educate doctors around the country to effectively use these advanced technologies and therapies.

New Approaches to Liver Transplant
We can transplant high-quality organs from donors with hepatitis B and C to recipients with or without the diseases. Their use may shorten your time on the waitlist. These new offerings at Duke are only available at a handful of transplant centers in the U.S.

Advanced Imaging for Hepatitis
We were involved in the research and development of FibroScan and were one of the first medical centers to offer this noninvasive alternative to liver biopsy. 

Best Hospital for Gastroenterology and GI Surgery in NC

Where you receive your care matters. Duke University Hospital is proud of our team and the exceptional care they provide. They are why our gastroenterology and GI surgery program is nationally ranked, and the highest-ranked program in North Carolina, according to U.S. News & World Report for 2024–2025.

This page was medically reviewed on 06/08/2023 by