An HIV-positive USA expat now on the run has leaked the HIV-positive status of 14,200 people - plus their contact details and the names of some of their sex partners - from a Singaporean health database.
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.
The records included HIV test results, names, identification numbers, phone numbers, addresses and other health information.
The MOH said he'd been aided in criminal activity by his partner, a Singaporean doctor who was formerly head of MOH's National Public Health Unit.
The data is in the possession of Mikhy K. Farrera Brochez, a male U.S. citizen who lived in Singapore from 2008 to 2016, the ministry said.
According to the Straits Times, a Singaporean newspaper, Brochez submitted a blood sample from Ler as his own, after testing positive for HIV in 2008.
Ler was convicted last September of helping Brochez cheat and providing false information to the police and health ministry, the statement said.
"We are sorry for the anxiety and distress caused by this incident", said the ministry in a statement. Although the Ministry contacted the affected individuals, the public was not informed of this discovery.
"Our priority is the well being of the affected individuals", it added, saying that it has been contacting affected individuals to inform and help them since Saturday (Jan 26), and that it has worked with relevant parties to disable access to the information. However, officials have warned that the culprit is still in possession of the information and could disclose it publicly in the future.
The American was remanded in prison in June 2016, and sentenced to 28 months in jail for fraud and drug-related offences in 2017.
The ministry said it has put more safeguards in place to prevent information from being mishandled.
Brochez is now under police investigation, and the authorities are seeking assistance from their foreign counterparts, according to the ministry statement, which did not specify any country. The database contains information related to HIV-positive individuals and is used to monitor the country's HIV infection status, facilitate contact tracing, and assess disease prevention measures.
"Police will not hesitate to take stern action, including prosecution, against those who have breached the OSA".
"We are working with relevant parties to scan the internet for signs of further disclosure of the information". He also was charged under Singapore's Official Secrets Act for failing to adopt reasonable care with confidential data regarding HIV-positive patients.
March 2019: Ler's appeal against his 24-month sentence to be heard. The records were stolen sometime before 2016, but released after Brochez was deported from Singapore.
While the MOH statement doesn't give an exact motive for the leak, it does state that it was the result of "mishandling of information by Ler, who is suspected of not having complied with the policies and guidelines on the handling of confidential information".