Data Leak in Singapore Exposes HIV Status of 14,000 Locals and Foreign Visitors

About 100 students sit in the formation of the AIDS ribbon during an AIDS awareness program held in their school, Wednesday Aug. 16, 2006 in Singapore.
Photo: AP

Medical records and contact information belonging to thousands of HIV-positive Singaporeans and foreign visitors to the southeast Asian city state have been leaked online, according to an alert issued by the country’s Ministry of Health (MOH).

In a statement on its website, the ministry said the confidential health information of some 14,200 individuals diagnosed with HIV had been exposed.

“The information has been illegally disclosed online,” it said. “We have worked with the relevant parties to disable access to the information.”

The MOH said the information was in the possession of a U.S. citizen named Mikhy K Farrera Brochez, who had been remanded to prison in Singapore in 2016, convicted of numerous fraud and drug-related offenses. The ministry said Brochez had lied about his HIV status in order to obtain an employment pass in the country.

Brochez, who could not be reached for comment, was reportedly deported after serving a 28-month sentence. The MOH said he’d been aided in criminal activity by his partner, a Singaporean doctor who was formerly head of MOH’s National Public Health Unit.

Citing a local charity, CNN reported Monday that while the law prohibiting HIV-positive tourists from entering the state had been relaxed, they are still barred from receiving employment visas or permanent resident status.

The exposed records belong to 5,400 Singaporeans diagnosed with HIV before January 2013, and 8,800 foreigners diagnosed before December 2011, the MOH said.

“While access to the confidential information has been disabled, it is still in the possession of the unauthorised person, and could still be publicly disclosed in the future,” it said. “We are working with relevant parties to scan the Internet for signs of further disclosure of the information.”

[CNN]