Data of 14,200 HIV patients leaked in Singapore

The stolen data included the names, contact information and test results of thousands of people diagnosed with HIV in Singapore. The majority of the patients whose data was leaked are foreigners.

The confidential medical records of 14,200 people diagnosed with HIV in Singapore, the country's Health Ministry announced on Monday.

Authorities in Singapore said a US man is believed to be behind the leak, saying he published the data after obtaining the HIV registry records from his partner, a Singaporean doctor.

What we know so far:

  • The leaked records included 5,400 Singaporeans who were diagnosed with HIV up to January 2013, as well as some 8,800 foreigners who were diagnosed up until December 2011.
  • The patient's names, contact information, ID numbers, HIV test results and identification numbers as well as the personal information of 2,400 of their medical contacts was published online.
  • "We are sorry for the anxiety and distress caused by this incident," the Health Ministry said. "Our priority is the well-being of the affected individuals."
  • Authorities have blocked online access to the information, but warned that the data is still in the possession of the person who leaked it — and who could possibly publically release it again.
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Suspect accessed data through doctor

Singaporean officials said they'd traced the leak back to a US man who was deported from Singapore in 2018 after serving a 28-month sentence for fraud and drug-related offenses.

According to the Health Ministry statement, the fraud charges stem from the man lying about his HIV status to maintain his employment pass. He'd also used forged degree certificates in job applications and lied to police, the ministry said.

The suspect gained access to the data through his partner — a Singaporean doctor who headed the country's National Public Health Unit from March 2012 to May 2013. The agency manages the national HIV registry.

The doctor was convicted of abetting the US suspect and is currently serving a 24-month sentence.

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Second major leak in Singapore

The leak on Monday is the latest health data breach to hit Singapore, a city-state home to 5.6 million people, including many expats.

In June and July last year, Singapore experienced it's largest-ever data breach when the health records of 1.5 million Singaporeans were stolen, including Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

An official inquiry into last year's data breach revealed earlier this month that a foreign state was likely behind the attack and that there were several failings that lead to the breach, inluding weaknesses in computer systems.

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rs/rt  (AFP, dpa)

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