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Taiwanese Gov Workers Breach HIV Privacy Law

Taiwanese Gov Workers Breach HIV Privacy Law

An HIV/AIDS advocacy group has condemned Taiwanese government workers after several of them shared private information about the HIV statuses of citizens drafted into the military.

After government officials alerted the parents of a man who was drafted that he was HIV-positive, his father kicked him out of the house, Chang Cheng-hsueh of Persons with HIV/AIDS Rights Advocacy Association of Taiwan told the Central News Agency. A letter containing the information about the man, who goes by the name Hsiao Pan, was accompanied by implicit instructions to keep the information confidential. However, officials ignored the instructions, and relayed the information to Hsiao Pan's father. In another incident, a conscription exemption form that was supposed to be delivered to another man, Hsiao Mi, was instead delivered to his home, where his mother read on the form that her son is HIV-positive.

The HIV Infection Control and Patient Rights Protection Act bars medical workers, or anyone with access to medical records, from disclosing such information. Violators can be punished with fines up to $150,000 (or approximately US$4,965).

The Ministry of the Interior said it will conduct an internal investigation to learn more about the breaches of privacy. Exempt draftees are now instructed to pick up their exemption notification in-person. Chang said one worker believes "parents have the right to know about the health of their children."

Both Hsiao Pan and Hsiao Mi have received apologies from the government employees who revealed their HIV statuses.

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