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Singapore officials blame American for leaking patients' HIV records

By Clyde Hughes
Singapore officials said U.S. citizen Mikhy Farrera Brochez disclosed confidential medical information of 14,200 people. Photo by Bryna Sim/EPA-EFE/The New Paper
Singapore officials said U.S. citizen Mikhy Farrera Brochez disclosed confidential medical information of 14,200 people. Photo by Bryna Sim/EPA-EFE/The New Paper

Jan. 28 (UPI) -- Singapore officials have blamed an American citizen for releasing confidential information on 14,200 medical patients diagnosed with HIV.

The country's Ministry of Health said in a statement Monday the citizen, Mikhy Farrera Brochez, worked for a doctor in Singapore until 2016. He was deported after a conviction for numerous fraud and drug-related charges nearly two years ago, the agency said.

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The leaked records involved 5,400 Singaporeans diagnosed with HIV up to 2013 and 8,800 foreign nationals diagnosed to 2011. The information included names, identification numbers, phone numbers, addresses, HIV test results and other medical information.

"We are sorry for the anxiety and distress caused by this incident," the ministry said. "Our priority is the well-being of the affected individuals. ... We have been progressively contacting the individuals to notify them and render assistance."

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Singapore officials said the crimes Brochez were convicted of in 2017 related to him lying about his own HIV status to the Ministry of Manpower so he could get an employment pass. Prosecutors said he also furnished false information to police during a criminal investigation and using forged degree certificates in job applications. Officials said his whereabouts are unknown.

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The Singapore doctor was convicted last September of helping Brochez provide false information to police and health officials, and was sentenced to 24 months in jail.

"This incident is believed to have arisen from the mishandling of information by [the doctor], who is suspected of not having complied with the policies and guidelines on the handling of confidential information," the ministry said.

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"[We] will not hesitate to take stern action against staff and other individuals who abuse their authority and access to confidential information, or fail to handle such information in a proper manner."

Authorities said they learned in 2016 Brochez possessed the sensitive information and raided his residence where they believed all the information had been retrieved. After Brochez was deported last May, the ministry said it learned he still had some records.

Singapore police warned people against sharing the patients' information.

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