Who are the pair at the centre of HIV data leak?

Grant Boone
January 29, 2019

Confidential data containing the HIV-positive status of thousands of individuals living in Singapore was recently leaked online by USA citizen Mikhy Brochez, Singapore's Health Ministry announced on Monday.

United States citizen Mikhy Farrera Brochez lived in Singapore from 2008 and was convicted in 2017 on numerous drug-related and fraud offences, including lying to the Ministry of Manpower about his own HIV status, the statement said.

The information included their name, identification number, contact details (phone number and address), HIV test results and related medical information.

The Ministry of Health (MOH) said it lodged a police report against Brochez in May 2016, when it received information that he had confidential information that appeared to be from the HIV registry.

He was then busted for lying to the authorities about his HIV status, fraud, and drug-related offenses and was sent to jail in 2017, and then deported, The Straits Times reports.

His male partner was Ler Teck Siang, a Singaporean doctor who was head of MOH's National Public Health Unit from March 2012 to May 2013.

Brochez - who could not be reached for comment - is now under investigation by Singaporean police, "and the authorities are seeking assistance from their foreign counterparts", the statement said.

This latest incident comes months after a major cyberattack on Singapore's government health database saw hackers steal the medical information of some 1.5 million people, including that of Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

The ministry said it has put more safeguards in place to prevent information from being mishandled.

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"Going forward, we will continue to strengthen and to review our systems to ensure they are secure, and our priority remains the patients' well-being and we will extend whatever assistance and support that we can for them". Since September 2016, the downloading and decrypting of information from the HIV registry requires the approval of two people instead of one, it said. However, officials have warned that the culprit is still in possession of the information and could disclose it publicly in the future.

Last week, it learned that he could still be in possession of the data, the ministry said.

Singapore-based advocacy group Action for AIDS said the case has the "potential of damaging the lives of persons living with HIV and their loved ones". His partner previously had access to the HIV registry for his work, it said.

"On this occasion, he had disclosed the information online", said MOH.

Meanwhile, Ler was charged in 2016 under the Penal Code and Official Secrets Act (OSA).

Sentenced to two years in jail, Ler is appealing against the sentence, with the hearing scheduled for March.

Authorities said they learned in 2016 Brochez possessed the sensitive information and raided his residence where they believed all the information had been retrieved.

Jan 22, 2019: MOH was notified by police that confidential information from MOH's HIV Registry could be in Farrera-Brochez's possession, and had been leaked online.

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