The lowest form of data breach

From page 4A of this morning’s Oklahoman:

Announcement by Aetna of a data breach

The toll-free number, I suppose, is to give the company a chance to get to the customers before the customers find out about this:

The Legal Action Center, AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania, and Berger & Montague, P.C. filed a federal class action lawsuit [August 28] against Aetna for its repeated failure to respect the privacy rights of people taking HIV medication by mailing its customers Aetna envelopes where their HIV medication was visible through the large transparent window of the envelopes. The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, contends that the insurer’s mailing violated several laws by revealing highly confidential HIV information of approximately 12,000 customers in at least 23 states.

According to the complaint [pdf], the lead plaintiff’s sister learned that he was taking HIV medication from an unopened large-window of an Aetna envelope that revealed the highly confidential information. The plaintiff, identified by the pseudonym Andrew Beckett in the complaint, does not have HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, but takes Pre-exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP), a regiment [sic] that helps prevent a person from acquiring HIV.

Widespread stigma still exists about HIV and AIDS, leading to discrimination in employment, housing, education and health care, and to violence. The lawsuit filed today alleges that the information about HIV medication was clearly visible through the large transparent window of the Aetna envelope, and charges Aetna with carelessly and impermissibly revealing highly confidential HIV information of customers to their family members, roommates, friends, neighbors, landlords, mail carriers, and even complete strangers.

Truth be told, I’d be peeved if I got a notification of sorts mentioning that I take a daily tranq, despite the fact that pretty much everyone who reads this site already knows that I take a daily tranq.

The word that jumps out at me, though, is “repeated”:

“In 2014 and 2015, Aetna was sued in two separate class action lawsuits,” the lawsuit explained. “Among other things, those lawsuits alleged that Aetna jeopardized the privacy of people taking HIV medications by requiring its insureds to receive their HIV medications through mail and not allowing them to pick up their medications in person at the pharmacy.”

Technically, these suits were never certified as class-action suits; instead, Aetna settled with the individual plaintiffs.

Still, it’s hard not to conclude that Aetna, for whatever reason, has it in for people with HIV.

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