Delta antigen (delta) is a transmissible agent requiring hepatitis B virus (HBV) for its replication. Antibody to delta (anti-delta) was present in nine of 71 (13%) British HBV carriers: six were intravenous drug abusers and two were haemophiliacs. Anti-delta was negative in 30 HBsAg positive homosexuals. Cirrhosis was common in patients with anti-delta and those with anti-delta positive cirrhosis were significantly younger than those with anti-delta negative cirrhosis. In British HBV carriers delta infection is associated with intravenous drug abuse and haemophilia and perhaps a more rapid progression of chronic liver disease.
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