California settles with Aetna in lawsuit that revealed patients' HIV status

California settles with Aetna in lawsuit that revealed patients' HIV status
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California's attorney general has settled with healthcare provider Aetna for nearly $1 million dollars over a breach of privacy that revealed the HIV status of hundreds of Californians.

The company was accused by Attorney General Xavier BecerraXavier BecerraMicrosoft to follow landmark California privacy law nationwide Hillicon Valley: California AG reveals Facebook investigation | McConnell criticizes Twitter's political ad ban | Lawmakers raise concerns over Google takeover of Fitbit | Dem pushes FCC to secure 5G networks California acknowledges Facebook investigation, asks court to order compliance MORE of violating multiple state laws when a vendor for the company sent letters to roughly 12,000 people across the U.S., including almost 2,000 Californians, that revealed through a clear window on the envelope's front that recipients were using an HIV-related medication.

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In a statement Wednesday, Becerra said Aetna "violated the public’s trust" by allowing residents' sensitive medical information to be easily seen by anyone who handles mail.

“A person’s HIV status is incredibly sensitive information and protecting that information must be a top priority for the entire healthcare industry,” Becerra said.

“Aetna violated the public’s trust by revealing patients’ private and personal medical information. We will continue to hold these companies accountable to prevent such a gross privacy violation from reoccurring," he added.

Aetna will pay $935,000 under the settlement and will implement new protocols to prevent future breaches of patient confidentiality, according to a news release.

Those affected have received an additional $17 million in compensation through a private class action lawsuit.