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August 1997

Molluscum Contagiosum: New Insights, New Directions

Arch Dermatol. 1997;133(8):1039-1041. doi:10.1001/archderm.1997.03890440123020

WITH THE eradication of smallpox, molluscum contagiosum (MC) virus (MCV) became the last remaining member of the Poxviridae family to specifically infect humans.1-3 Unlike the related poxviruses variola and vaccinia, MCV received little attention, since infection resulted in benign cutaneous neoplasms that were usually self-limited or easily controlled. All that changed with the advent of the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), as extensive and recalcitrant MC emerged as an important cause of morbidity and disfigurement.4-8 Physicians who treat MC in human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)— infected individuals have been frustrated by the lack of effective antiviral therapy and the inexorable progression of MC lesions as patients enter the late stages of HIV disease.5,6,8 Fortunately, recent basic knowledge about poxviruses, through sequencing of the MCV genome,9 as well as advances in the therapy of HIV-infected patients,10,11 gives reasons for optimism.

Poxviruses wereamong the first groups of infectious agents to be morphologically defined by their effect

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