Health Care

Who are the pair at the centre of HIV data leak?

Who are the pair at the centre of HIV data leak?”

The American lived in Singapore for eight years on an EP, from 2008 to 2016.

The country's Ministry of Health said in a statement Monday the citizen, Mikhy Farrera Brochez, worked for a doctor in Singapore until 2016.

That's when Brochez was deported, after serving a 28-month prison sentence on "numerous fraud and drug-related offences".

The Health Ministry had become aware in May 2016 that Brochez was in possession of confidential information that appeared to be from the country's HIV Registry.

In addition, MOH said Ler has been charged under the OSA for failing to take reasonable care of confidential information regarding HIV-positive patients.

Singapore Ministry of Health (MOH) has ascertained that confidential information regarding 14,200 individuals diagnosed with HIV up to January 2013, and 2,400 of their contacts, is in the possession of an unauthorised person.

This included each person's name, identification number, phone number and address, HIV test results and related medical information. The data of another 2,400 people listed as part of a contact tracing process also has been exposed online, according to local authorities.

In lying about his HIV positive status, Brochez was aided by his partner, Ler Teck Siang, a former head of the MOH's National Public Health Unit.

This latest incident comes months after a major cyberattack on Singapore's government health database saw hackers steal the medical information of some 1.5 million people, including that of Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

The leaked records relate to 5,400 Singaporeans diagnosed with HIV between 1985 and January 2013, and 8,800 foreigners diagnosed between 1985 and 2011.

He added: "I also understand the concerns, the anxiety and distress faced by our affected patients and our priority is their well-being".

The Ministry of Health sought to have private clinics contribute data to the NEHR via a Healthcare Services Bill introduced to parliament.

Brochez - who could not be reached for comment - is now under investigation by Singaporean police, "and the authorities are seeking assistance from their foreign counterparts", the statement said. His partner previously had access to the HIV registry for his work, it said.

"The information has been illegally disclosed online", it said.

Police in Singapore said they would prosecute anyone found sharing the leaked HIV Registry data under the Official Secrets Act, Channel News Asia reported.

While the MOH statement doesn't give an exact motive for the leak, it does state that it was the result of "mishandling of information by Ler, who is suspected of not having complied with the policies and guidelines on the handling of confidential information". Ler has since been convicted of abetting Farrera-Brochez to commit cheating and of providing false information to the police and MOH. Ler was sentenced to 24 months in jail, but has since filed an appeal, which is expected to be heard in March.

They say they were notified on 22 January this year that Farrera-Brochez could still have possession of the HIV registry data.

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