Insurance company Aetna accidentally revealed HIV status of thousands of patients

The health insurance company Aetna inadvertently revealed the HIV status of thousands of its customers.

According to reports, 12,000 letters were sent out to customers at the end of July. Unfortunately, the windows on the mailing envelopes were large enough to reveal some of the customers were taking HIV medication.

One envelope showed the text ‘filing prescriptions for HIV medication’.

Legal Action Center (LAC) first publicized the breach. They also made clear this mistake is not only a privacy concern, but a safety one as well given the stigma HIV still provokes.

Attorneys of various organizations including LAC and AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania sent a demand letter on behalf of affected customers ‘calling for an immediate end to the letters in the current form’. They are also requesting the company change procedures to make sure it never happens again.

As Ronda B. Goldfein, Executive Director of the AIDS Law Project, explains: ‘It creates a tangible risk of violence, discrimination and other trauma.’

‘Discrimination against persons with HIV continues to persist’

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is also looking into the matter.

Consequently, he posted the letter his office sent to Aetna on Twitter.

Here is the letter that my office sent to Aetna in response to the disclosure of its members’ HIV status.

— Eric Schneiderman (@AGSchneiderman) August 25, 2017

‘This is unacceptable,’ the letter bluntly states. ‘Discrimination against persons with HIV continues to persist.’

The letter also alleges this is not the company’s first breach of privacy. Previously, they exposed more than 5,000 customers private health information….

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