Aetna last month breached the privacy of some of its customers with HIV when the Connecticut health insurance company sent a letter with instructions on how to fill prescriptions for HIV medications.
The envelope had a plastic window that in some cases showed not just the customer’s name and address, but also the names of medications, exposing some recipients’ HIV status.
The casual disclosure of a person’s HIV status or use of HIV medication by Aetna is far more than a violation of the law, said Ronda B. Goldfein, executive director of the AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia.
“It creates a tangible risk of violence, discrimination and other trauma,” she said.
The breach occurred July 28 in a mailing to about 12,000 customers. Aetna found out about the problem on July 31, the company told customers in a letter disclosing the breach.
“We sincerely apologize to those affected by a mailing issue that inadvertently exposed the personal health information of some Aetna members. This type of mistake is unacceptable, and we are undertaking a full review of our processes to ensure something like this never happens again,” a company spokesman said in an email.