HIV Clinic Reveals Patient Names in Mass Email

London clinic faces 'outraged' patients and potential fines over data breach
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 2, 2015 3:32 PM CDT

(Newser) – A major HIV clinic in London revealed the names and email addresses of approximately 780 patients yesterday when it forgot to hide the recipients of its monthly e-newsletter, BuzzFeed reports. Patients at 56 Dean Street—BuzzFeed calls it "Europe's busiest sexual health center"—say they're "outraged" and "sick" over the breach, and the BBC reports that fines for data breaches such as this can be as high as $765,000. "Each one of the individuals were sent an email, but instead of a blind email they got a group email, and that's where the mistake happened," a spokesperson for the clinic tells BuzzFeed. "I've done it myself, actually."

The Guardian reports the government is launching an investigation into the data breach, but that's unlikely to satisfy patients worried over their HIV status being made public. "I'm concerned who will get this information," one patient tells the BBC. "If it ends up in the hands of the wrong people, such as hate groups, it could be dynamite." Others say they found people on the email list they know, but whose HIV status they had never been told. But a doctor at 56 Dean Street insists not everyone on the email list is HIV-positive, the BBC notes. The clinic has issued an email of apology to its patients.

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