SINGAPORE (Feb 4): Marketing manager Ajmal Khan, 29, was having a lazy Sunday afternoon watching television with his mother when his phone rang. It was the Ministry of Health (MOH) asking if it was a good time to speak with him privately. For a brief moment, Ajmal wondered if he had forgotten to pay for his medication. But it turned out to be a far more severe matter. He was told his sensitive medical information had been exposed. His name, contact details, address, identification number and HIV status were online. The person on the phone told him the details were leaked by a former employee who has been charged under the Official Secrets Act, but could not answer his other questions.

“I was wondering about the intent [behind the leak] — why did this person do it, who was the person? I wanted to understand what was going on, but the caller wasn’t able to let me know. I thought it was a very targeted attack affecting [only] a few people,” Ajmal told The Edge Singapore. The next day, on Jan 28, he found out through news reports he was just one out of 14,200 people whose HIV status had been exposed. He also found out that MOH had known since May 2016 that the HIV records had been improperly accessed. It found out about the leak on Jan 22, six days before Ajmal got the call.

“They should have told us as soon as possible. It has been so many years, who knows how many times this information has been copied and pasted, and who has access to it. …if we had known earlier… we would have known what to expect and how to respond,” said Ajmal.

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