HIV data leak a 'criminal act that should be condemned': Action for AIDS

HIV data leak a 'criminal act that should be condemned': Action for AIDS

Nurse draws blood sample during HIV test in Caracas
File photo of a nurse drawing blood for an HIV test. (Photo: Reuters)

SINGAPORE: Action for AIDS on Monday (Jan 28) condemned the leak of confidential information belonging to 14,200 HIV-positive people, calling it a "criminal act". 

Names, identification numbers, phone numbers, addresses and HIV test results was included in the information leaked online by a former resident. 

American Mikhy K Farrera Brochez was deported from Singapore last April after he was convicted of fraud and drug-related offences, and sentenced to 28 months’ jail.

His boyfriend, Singaporean doctor Ler Teck Siang, had access to the information in the HIV registry.

READ: HIV data leak: What we know about Mikhy Farrera Brochez

"Action for AIDS is deeply troubled by this incident that has the potential of damaging the lives of persons living with HIV and their loved ones," said the organisation's president Professor Roy Chan. 

“We stand with all whose private information may have been accessed and violated. This is a criminal act that should be condemned and answered in the most severe terms possible.”

Prof Chan also urged the public to refrain from speculation and gossip, and to avoid sharing the confidential information if they see it.

“We understand that this is a trying time for the many who are affected by this breach, and we would like to express our solidarity as a community that have been affected by HIV," said the organisation dedicated to fighting AIDS/HIV infection in Singapore. 

“If we all stand firm in this matter, we can limit the damage of this theft.”

READ: Doctor on trial for helping HIV-positive boyfriend deceive MOM

THOSE WHO HAVE NOT DISCLOSED HIV STATUS “MOST VULNERABLE”

An affected HIV sufferer, a 31-year-old man who wanted to be known only as Rico, said he is worried that his "intimate details" had been leaked.

He is especially concerned that friends whom he has yet to disclose his condition to would find out. 

"I fear the change in how they will view me as a person," he told Channel NewsAsia in an email interview.

Despite those worries, he said he is coping well with the support system he has built since he was diagnosed.

READ: ‘I am sorry’: Gan Kim Yong says health ministry providing support to HIV sufferers affected by data leak

Since Monday morning, LGBT charity Oogachaga said it has been contacted by at least three people affected by the data leak. One of them was a patient at Singapore General Hospital, it said, while another was a patient at Tan Tock Seng Hospital. 

Oogachaga said LGBT people who have not disclosed their HIV-positive status to their family and friends, or who are still "closeted" about their sexual orientation, are most vulnerable. 

“This reminds us of the insufferable stigma, fear and discrimination that continues to surround people living with HIV in Singapore today," said Oogachaga executive director Leow Yangfa.

“Those of us who live without HIV cannot begin to imagine the shock, distress, pain and betrayal they must be going through right now.”

The organisation said it is offering support to those affected by the data leak via its confidential and anonymous hotline, email and WhatsApp counselling services. 

“In coming days and weeks, as the full impact of this is felt, we will continue to make our counselling services available to all those who need it,” said Mr Leow.

Source: CNA/ga/ja(gs)

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