The Singapore government should take concrete steps to enact anti-discrimination legislation to support people living with HIV (PLHIV), said Pink Dot SG on Tuesday (29 January), a day after the health ministry announced that information of HIV-positive 14,200 individuals was leaked.
The LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) advocacy group said in a Facebook post, ” We call on the government to take moral and political responsibility by acknowledging what HIV-positive individuals have to endure in our country.”
The introduction of anti-discrimination legislation to support PLHIV would reduce harm done to those whose names have been exposed by the data breach, said Pink Dot.
The group also called on Singaporeans to “deny power to this vicious act” of data leak by standing in solidarity with HIV-positive individuals and their families. “Let us not be complicit in this act of hate,” it added.
The Ministry of Health announced on Monday that the HIV-positive status of 14,200 people, along with their names, identification numbers and contact details, had been leaked online by American fraudster Mikhy Farrera-Brochez.
The medical records belonged to 5,400 Singaporeans diagnosed with HIV up to January 2013 and 8,800 foreigners – including work and visit pass applicants and holders – diagnosed with the disease up to December 2011.
Brochez was jailed for 28 months in 2017 for fraud and drug-related crimes, before being deported.
He was a partner of Ler Teck Siang, a male Singaporean doctor, who was the Head of MOH’s National Public Health Unit (NPHU) from March 2012 to May 2013 and had access to the HIV Registry. He resigned in January 2014.
Ler was sentenced to two years’ jail last year for abetting Brochez to commit cheating, and also of providing false information to the police and the health ministry. His appeal is expected to be heard in March.
Ler has also been charged under the Official Secrets Act for failing to take reasonable care of confidential information regarding HIV-positive patients. His case under the OSA is pending.
“Our hearts go out to the victims of this data leak who now face the prospect of further stigmatisation and discrimination, thanks to the irrational fear and ignorance surrounding HIV and People Living with HIV (PLHIV),” said Pink Dot SG.
“Pink Dot SG strongly condemns any attempt to perpetuate, or take advantage of the discriminatory environment our PLHIV live in. We believe that it is only through education of the misinformed that we can better support those whose names have been exposed by this data leak,” the group added.