AIDS/HIV list mistakenly e-mailed

Associated Press | February 22, 2005

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. County officials are "99% sure" a confidential list of thousands of AIDS patients and people with HIV never got outside their control after it was mistakenly e-mailed to health workers, a spokesman said.

Only 10 Palm Beach County Health Department workers opened the message which contained the names of 4,000 AIDS patients and 2,500 people with HIV and technicians confirmed none were saved, printed, forwarded, or stored, spokesman Tim O'Connor said.

"It doesn't look like it got outside at all," he said Monday. "We're like 99% sure right now."

O'Connor said the workers known to have opened the e-mail had been interviewed and reminded of their confidentiality agreements.

Health Department chief Dr. Jean Malecki has asked the state to investigate. Activists have expressed concern the leak could hurt the public's trust in government and discourage people from getting tested for HIV and AIDS.

John W. "Jack" Nolan, the county's top HIV statistician, said last week he accidentally attached the list to a monthly statistics report that was sent by e-mail to 800 employees. Nolan said the list contained names of AIDS and HIV patients in the county, but not their addresses.

O'Connor said Nolan could face disciplinary action, but not prosecution.