HIV Data of 14,200 Patients Leaked Online

Singapore prides itself as a country with advanced technology and information security despite attempts made by the outside forces to infiltrate government database as with the case of SingHealth last year, to gain information on the health status of a high-ranking official based on his logs and health records during consultations and check–ups.

Medical records, along with financial documents are among the most private records you can get a hold of a person. It can be used for a number of reasons, so having access to this kind of information without authorization is unlawful and unethical, even for medical practitioners.

HIV Data of 14,200 Patients Leaked Online
Image Credit: david__jones/Flickr

Health Ministry Reports Data Breach Involving Info on HIV-positive Patients in SG

The HIV-positive status of 14,200 patients in Singapore – along with sensitive information including their identification numbers and contact details – has been leaked online by an unauthorized person according to the Health Ministry, as shared in a report by Channel News Asia.

The records belonged to 5,400 Singaporean diagnosed with HIV from 1985 to January 2013 and 8,800 foreigners,  which include work and visit pass applicants and holders, diagnosed with HIV from 1985 to December 2011.

The information released through the breach included the names, identification numbers, addresses, HIV test results, and medical information. The details of another 2,400 of their contacts – identified through contact tracing (a method done to track the source and spread of the virus) – up to May 2007 were also leaked.

At a media briefing held by the ministry regarding the matter, Permanent Secretary of Health Chan Heng Kee explained that of the 5,400 Singaporeans whose details were leaked, 1,900 have already died. Of those that remain alive, 90 percent are male.

As per the ministry’s investigation into the matter, the information was accessed and leaked by Mikhy K Farrera Brochez, an HIV-positive American who lived in Singapore from 2008.

Brochez had been convicted of numerous fraud and drug charges, as well as lying to the Ministry of Health about his HIV status.

Brochez was jailed in June 2016 on a sentence of 28 months’ jail and was deported from Singapore back in April 2018.