Anonymous letters mailed to HIV-positive people in Florida
March 18 2005 12:00 AM ET
Palm Beach County, Fla., health director Jean Malecki is calling for a criminal investigation into anonymous letters sent to local HIV-positive people--an act she described as "terrorism." "Your name appeared on a list of HIV-AIDS patients for Palm Beach County," said one letter that had no return address. The letters were mailed after a confidential list of about 6,500 HIV patients was accidentally e-mailed last month to at least 16 county health workers. That list did not include addresses. Twelve minutes after the e-mail was sent, the department shut down the system and deleted the data.
Mailed in West Palm Beach, Fla., the letters carried printed address labels and listed the phone number of a medical billing firm in Indiana. The letters asked recipients to call the number to "become a sponsor and donate your time to help the families" of HIV-positive people in the county. The company's attorney, Scott Herbst, denied any link between the company and the mailings.
"We have a creep or creeps out there trying to frighten people following a separate incident with that e-mail," said Malecki. "I believe people are taking advantage of this situation and frightening people who are already living with this horrendous disease." (AP)