(CNN)The HIV-positive status of 14,200 people, as well as their identification numbers and contact details, has been leaked online, authorities in Singapore said Monday.
HIV status of over 14,000 people leaked online, Singapore authorities say
Records leaked include 5,400 Singaporeans diagnosed as HIV-positive before January 2013, and 8,800 foreigners diagnosed before December 2011, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said in a statement.
Patient names, identification numbers, phone numbers, addresses, HIV test results and medical information was included in the information leaked by a former Singaporean resident.
"We are sorry for the anxiety and distress caused by this incident," the statement said. "Our priority is the wellbeing of the affected individuals. Since 26 January, we have been progressively contacting the individuals to notify them and render assistance."
Leow Yangfa, a spokesman for LGBT charity Oogachaga, said the group was concerned people who have not disclosed their HIV status to employers, family or friends could face repercussions due to the leak.
"This reminds us of the insufferable stigma, fear and discrimination that continues to surround people living with HIV in Singapore today," Yangfa said. "Those of us who live without HIV cannot begin to imagine the shock, distress, pain and betrayal they must be going through right now."
Sex between men is technically illegal in Singapore, and can be punished by up to two years in prison under a colonial-era statute, though the law is not consistently enforced.
According to a MOH statement, the "confidential information is in the illegal possession of one Mikhy K Farrera Brochez," a US citizen who resided in Singapore until May 2018.
That's when Brochez was deported, after serving a 28-month prison sentence on "numerous fraud and drug-related offences." One of the fraud charges related to Brochez's own HIV status, which he lied about to the Ministry of Manpower.
HIV-positive foreigners were barred from entering Singapore until 2016, according to Action for Aids, a local charity. While the law has been relaxed for tourists, HIV-positive foreigners are still barred from receiving employment visas or permanent residence status.
In lying about his HIV positive status, Brochez was aided by his partner, Ler Teck Siang, a former head of the MOH's National Public Health Unit. Ler was convicted of "abetting Brochez to commit cheating, and also of providing false information to the Police and MOH" in September last year and jailed for 24 months. He is currently appealing that sentence.
According to the Straits Times, a Singapo