What is the role of molluscum contagiosum in the ocular manifestations of HIV infection?

Updated: Jul 21, 2021
  • Author: Luca Rosignoli, MD; Chief Editor: Andrew A Dahl, MD, FACS  more...
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Molluscum contagiosum is the most common ocular adnexal manifestation in patients who are HIV positive. It is a highly contagious dermatitis caused by DNA poxviruses, and it may affect mucous membranes as well as skin. Molluscum contagiosum lesions may resemble small keratoacanthoma, cryptococcosis or basal cell carcinomatoses and can be distinguished by the presence of a central white material consisting of infected cells.

The DNA poxvirus spreads by direct contact with infected persons or by fomites. Viral particles from lid lesions can be shed in tears, causing a toxic keratoconjunctivitis or chronic follicular conjunctivitis.

Molluscum contagiosum is more frequent and severe in patients who are HIV positive than in patients who are HIV negative. The eyelid is involved in 5% of HIV-positive patients.

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