Some Companies Have Been Sharing Users’ HIV Status

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Your health information is supposed to remain private and protected. In the past several months however, several companies have been caught sharing the HIV status of some of their users without permission. Last year, Aetna, a major health insurance provider, was sued for accidentally revealing the HIV status of at least 12,000 of their customers. Since then, more cases of privacy breach have been reported.

Last month, CVS Health found itself facing a federal lawsuit alleging that the company unintentionally revealed the HIV status of up to 6,000 Ohio residents. Like the Aetna case, this too was through the use of a mailing packaging error. According to the Dayton Daily News, the lawsuit filed in late March claims a letter sent to 6,000 participants in a CVS HIV prescription program revealed the status of these participants. The letter’s envelope window was supposed to include a code referencing the program but instead including the HIV status of the participant.

The lawsuit further claims that CVS Health knew of the error, which allegedly took place in July and August of 2017, but did nothing to notify those affected or federal authorities. Three unidentified plaintiffs are seeking a class action lawsuit and a jury trial. In the Aetna case, the lawsuit was settled for $17 million.

In another instance of a company sharing the HIV status of its users, dating app Grindr has admitted to sharing certain information with two other companies to analyze how their app was being used. The data shared with companies Apptimize and Localytics was encrypted and included both a user’s HIV status and the most recent date they had tested for the virus. The original privacy policy for Grindr stated that if a user chose to include this information in their profile, it would be made public. They have since claimed to have changed that policy.

These new instances of companies sharing a user’s HIV status brings to question the security of your private health information. You have a right to keep your personal health information private and secure. Health care providers and companies have a responsibility to protect that information.

If you are concerned about your own HIV status, or are worried you may have been exposed to the virus, you should have HIV testing performed. There are many convenient and affordable options for HIV testing, but also make sure that your information remains private. STD Test Express follows all HIPAA rules and regulations to keep our patient’s information safe and secure.

Article by Robert Francis Curtis

Robert studied at Columbia College Chicago. He has worked as a Care Adviser here at Analyte Health for a while and looks forward to spreading more information about sexual health.

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