Hepatitis D can greatly affect the family environment of the person with the disease due to the risk of infection and possible psychological impact. To cope with the challenges associated with any chronic illness, caregivers and family members can:
- Keep themselves regularly informed (including through contact with health professionals)
- Join a support group if needed
- Inform themselves about their rights and entitlements, including their employer, in order to adjust their working hours accordingly and maintain a certain quality of life (leisure activities and moments of relaxation).1
The psyche: The center of attention
Detailed information about hepatitis D, its course, the different treatment options and its physical and psychological sequelae helps in understanding the difficulties that every caregiver faces.
Patients may need psychological help to accept the disease and cope with everyday life. As a relative and outside "observer" of the course of the disease, you can suggest such help if you feel it is necessary.
If you are the patient's partner, certain questions may arise within your relationship after the diagnosis of a hepatitis D infection (HDV) due to possible sexual transmission of the virus. However, it should be noted that hepatitis D can be asymptomatic for several years after infection until symptoms arise.2 Within the relationship, the fear of transmitting the virus or being infected may be accompanied by withdrawal and sexual dysfunction, sometimes requiring medical or psychological care. The use of condoms is strongly recommended.3
Protecting oneself = contributing to the care of a relative
In order to continue to support a sick relative, you should be healthy yourself and protect yourself from any risk of infection with the hepatitis D virus.
Like the hepatitis B virus, the hepatitis D virus can be transmitted through contaminated utensils via the blood. Therefore, it is essential to follow very strict hygiene measures and avoid sharing razors, toothbrushes, scissors, nail clippers, tweezers or piercing jewellery (incomplete list).3,4 The hepatitis D virus is a defective or dependent virus, i.e. it requires the presence of the hepatitis B virus (HBV) to replicate.1
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/family/specialneeds/
- Pascarella S., Negro F Hepatitis D virus: an update.. Liver Int. 2011 Jan;31(1):7-21.
- Hepatitis B und D RKI Ratgeber. .https://www.rki.de/DE/Content/Infekt/EpidBull/Merkblaetter/Ratgeber_HepatitisB.html;jsessionid=0BE0E1C4ECD0DFD16EB61C3444C90BD8.internet102#doc2390050bodyText14
- Hepatitis B Foundation. Living with Hepatitis B. https://www.hepb.org/assets/Uploads/living-with-chronic-hepb.pdf. Juni 2020.