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Florida official accidentally e-mailed confidential AIDS information

Florida official accidentally e-mailed confidential AIDS information

A statistician at the Palm Beach County, Fla., health department last week accidentally e-mailed a confidential list of the names of 6,500 HIV-positive people in the county to about 800 other department employees, the Palm Beach Post reports. John Nolan reportedly accidentally attached the list of the HIV-positive people to a routine e-mail sent throughout the department. Nolan realized his mistake soon after sending the e-mail and contacted the department's technology staff, which shut down the system and purged all e-mail attachments within an hour. A health department spokesman says 10 department employees had opened the e-mail before it was purged from the system, but none of them had saved, printed, or forwarded the list. Both the county and state health departments are launching investigations into the incident. The 10 employees who opened the e-mail have been reminded of their confidentiality agreements. AIDS activists say the incident undermines the public's trust in the government and discourages people from seeking HIV antibody tests out of fears that their identities will be publicly disclosed if they test positive for HIV infection.

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