Information Bulletin #12 August/September 2000
Molluscum contagiosum is a skin condition that can affect adults
and children with HIV/AIDS. Molluscum lesions appear as pearly,
flesh-colored, raised, firm bumps. These lesions can appear on
the face, arms, legs and the skin between the genitals and anus.
Molluscum contagiosum is caused by a virus, and some researchers
think that 90#37; of adults may be infected. In general, the
symptoms of bumps on the skin only occur when the immune system
Molluscum contagiosum can be very difficult to treat. Since
better HIV drugs have been available, there have been individual
reports that molluscum can get better when T4-cell counts
increase. However, HIV drugs may not always be able to treat
molluscum. Doctors have now reported that a specially made
topical (for use on the skin) form of a drug called cidofovir
(trade name Vistide) may successfully treat molluscum in some
cases. Cidofovir is an intravenous drug that is approved for the
treatment of a viral infection called cytomegalovirus (CMV).
The report is based on two children with AIDS that had severe
cases of molluscum. The molluscum lesions were disfiguring and
made it hard for the children to socialize. The doctors mixed
cidofovir with Dermovan, a widely available preparation (doctors
call it a "vehicle") that's designed for delivering drugs through
the skin. The mixture was applied to the molluscum lesions once a
day, 5 days a week, for 8 weeks.
Five to 15 days after beginning the cidofovir treatment, both
children showed redness and a painful wearing down of the
lesions, although the surrounding skin wasn't affected. According
to the doctors, after 2 months of treatment, all the lesions that
were treated went away. After more than two years, neither child
has had the lesions come back.
The doctors say that the way they mixed cidofovir with Dermovan
(a process often done by pharmacists called compounding) was key
to the treatment's success. When they tried a different version
of topical cidofovir, it didn't work. The full text of the study
contains details of the cidofovir preparation. The study was
published in the August 2000 issue of the Archives of
Dermatology. The full cite is Arch Dermatol. 2000;136:983-985.
The full text can be read free-of-charge on the Internet at: