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

Health Minister Gan Kim Yong apologised on Monday (Jan 28) after confidential information belonging to 14,200 HIV-positive people was leaked online.

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.

Mikhy Farrera-Brochez was convicted and jailed for fraud and drug-related offences in 2016 and was deported a year ago.

Outraged Singaporeans have blasted the Ministry of Health (MOH) for keeping silent about the leak of confidential information from the HIV registry for years, until the information was disclosed online by a foreigner.

Another Singaporean, Shih-Tung Ngiam, pointed out that MOH discovered the HIV registry leak in 2012-2013 but still tried to push for the National Electronic Health Record (NEHR) in 2017-2018 despite the obvious risks.

"Our priority is the well-being of the affected individuals", it added, saying that it has been contacting affected individuals to inform and provide assistance to them since Saturday.

The sensitive information included names, identification numbers, phone numbers, addresses and HIV test results, MOH said in a press release.

Ler has also been charged under the OSA for failing to take reasonable care of confidential information regarding HIV-positive patients.

According to MOH, the confidential information is in the illegal possession of Mikhy K Farrera Brochez, a male U.S. citizen who was residing in Singapore, on an employment pass, between January 2008 and June 2016.

Officials said Ler offered his own blood labelled as Farrera-Brochez's to allow him entry to the country.

The leak comes as Singapore is still dealing with the ramifications of another health-related data breach in July 2018, when hackers infiltrated the computers of SingHealth and stole the personal particulars of 1.5 million patients, including Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

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. I have also had my fill of people who say we don't have to know everything, and that we should let the G handle everything.

He was convicted in September a year ago of abetting Farrera-Brochez to cheat and of providing false information to the police and Ministry of Health (MOH).

Meanwhile, Ler was charged in 2016 under the Penal Code and Official Secrets Act (OSA). MOH made a police report and contacted the affected individuals to notify them.

However, officials have warned that the culprit is still in possession of the information and could disclose it publicly in the future.

Sentenced to two years in jail, Ler is appealing against the sentence, with the hearing scheduled for March.

March 2019: Ler's appeal against his 24-month sentence to be heard.

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.

  • Santos West