Friday, 19 April, 2019

US Man Leaks Health Records, HIV Status of Thousands in Singapore

A view of the skyline of Singapore A view of the skyline of Singapore
Anna Jefferson | 29 January, 2019, 12:42

Ministry of Health (MOH) announced that confidential information from its database, regarding 14,200 individuals diagnosed with HIV up to January 2013, and 2,400 of their contacts, has been leaked.

The information includes names, identification numbers, contact details, HIV test results and other medical information.

The man had gained access to the information through his partner, a Singaporean doctor who was head of the country's National Public Health Unit from March 2012 to May 2013, which oversees the national HIV registry.

Singapore's Ministry of Health said in a statement Monday that confidential data from its HIV registry had been illegally accessed and leaked by Mikhy K Farrera Brochez, a USA citizen residing in Singapore on an employment pass. Ler has since been convicted of abetting Farrera-Brochez to commit cheating and of providing false information to the police and MOH.

Brochez was deported after serving his jail term and was now overseas, according to the ministry statement, which did not say where. "Our priority is the well-being of the affected individuals", it added.

The Ministry of Health (MOH) said it lodged a police report against Brochez in May 2016, when it received information that he had confidential information that appeared to be from the HIV registry.

Access to the information has been blocked but it is still in the possession of the person who leaked it - and could be disclosed again, the ministry warned.

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March 2017: Farrera-Brochez was convicted of several fraud and drug-related offences, and sentenced to 28 months' jail.

The ministry noted in its statement that since 2016, it has set up additional safeguards in order to prevent any information from being mishandled in the future.

Permanent Secretary of Heath Chan Heng Kee told reporters at a media briefing on Monday that of the 5,400 Singaporeans whose information had been leaked, 1,900 of them had already died, Channel News Asia reported.

"This may have led to an unauthorized person gaining possession of the data and disclosing it online", he said.

"We are working with relevant parties to scan the Internet for signs of further disclosure of the information", it said, adding that Brochez now was under police investigation and local authorities were seeking assistance from their foreign counterparts. "Police will not hesitate to take stern action, including prosecution, against those who have breached the OSA", said a spokesman. He also was charged under Singapore's Official Secrets Act for failing to adopt reasonable care with confidential data regarding HIV-positive patients. The records were stolen sometime before 2016, but released after Brochez was deported from Singapore.

The ministry in May 2016 had filed a police report stating that Brochez had confidential information that appeared to be from the HIV Registry, prompting a property search during which relevant information was found and seized. Siang remains in Singapore, where he is in the process of appealing a 24-month sentence for helping Brochez lie his way into getting employment.

Jan 22, 2019: MOH was notified by police that confidential information from MOH's HIV Registry could be in Farrera-Brochez's possession, and had been leaked online.

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