The confidential medical records of 14,200 people diagnosed with HIV in Singapore have been leaked online, according to an announcement issued by the country’s Ministry of Health (MOH).
Confidential information including names, addresses, HIV status, and other medical details was reportedly included in the latest breach. The medical records belonged to 5,400 Singaporeans diagnosed with HIV since 1985 up to January 2013 as well as 8,800 foreigners – including work and visit pass applicants and holders – diagnosed with the disease up to December 2011.
“The information has been illegally disclosed online,” MOH said. “We have worked with the relevant parties to disable access to the information.”
The Health Ministry said the local police revealed that the data had been with Mikhy Farrera Brochez, a 34-year-old US citizen who lived in Singapore from 2008. He had illegally accessed the data through his partner Ler Teck Siang, who was a Singaporean doctor, and former head of Singapore’s National Public Health Unit from March 2012 to May 2013 with access to data in the local HIV. The male Singaporean doctor resigned from MOH in January 2014 and was convicted of abetting Brochez to commit fraud and providing false information to the police and Health Ministry.
Brochez was previously convicted of various fraud and drug-related offenses, specifically, for lying about his HIV status to maintain his employment pass and using forged degree certificates in job applications.
In May 2016, MOH had filed a police report after receiving information that Brochez still had the confidential information from the registry. The American was deported in May 2018, after which the Health Ministry was notified that he still held on to some records from 2016, though, the data then did not appear to have been exposed.
“We are sorry for the anxiety and distress caused by this incident,” said the Singapore’s Health Ministry in a statement.
“Our priority is the well being of the affected individuals,” it added, saying that it has been contacting affected individuals to inform and help them and that adding that Brochez currently was under police investigation and it has worked with relevant parties to disable access to the information.
The Health Ministry has set up a hotline for those who need additional information, and counselors are also available to assist them and to provide additional support if necessary, he said.
It has appealed to the public to notify the ministry immediately if they come across information related to the incident, and not to share it. Those with information or concerns can call the MOH hotline.