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Anxiety about the leak of HIV data in Conservative Singapore, International, Phnom Penh Post

Picture of the content - Phnom Penh Post

The volunteer lists ribbons with the names of people who have died of HIV / AIDS during the Candle AIDS Memorial in Singapore. ROSLAN RAHMAN / AFP

RICO has lived with HIV for almost a decade, believing only a small number of people in social conservative Singapore, fearing the reactions. Last month he received a phone call saying that information on his condition was published on the Internet.

Rico was one of the 14,200 people whose HIV status, name and address were thrown on the Internet by an American who is believed to have received confidential information from his Singapore-based partner.

"The LGBT community is angry and frustrated with all the temptation," said Rico, who did not want to be identified with his full name.

The 31-year-old said she is afraid that "the information she has been given may change the personal perception of people about me," adding that she has not told all her friends that HIV is positive.

"Society can be tolerant of the LGBT community, but I do not think they are ready to accept gay and HIV-positive people. Not in my life, "he said.

Although Singapore is modern in many ways, observers say that social attitudes have not progressed at the same pace as economic development and are often very conservative, as in other parts of Asia.

Those in Singapore with HIV – a virus that causes AIDS – have long complained of prejudice and activists claim that a negative reaction to data breach has highlighted stigma.

The Human Resource Manager working in the hospitality industry is quoted in the local newspaper "Straits Times" in which he stated that he will release all employees if their names are published.

The virus is usually transmitted through sex or split the needle and can not be spread through occasional contact, such as handling or hiccup.

For many years, foreigners were not allowed to go to Singapore for many years. The authorities have lifted the ban on short-sighted viruses in 2015, but those wishing to work in Singapore must still pass the test.

Widespread astonishment

Leakage, involving data of 5,400 Singaporeans and 8,800 aliens, caused a great astonishment. Sumita Banerjee, executive director of the Association for AIDS (AFA), said people with the virus narrowed down their group.

"One of the major concerns is that employers, friends and family who were not aware that they could react badly," she said, adding that some were afraid to lose their jobs.

However, according to health authorities guidelines, there are generally no valid reasons for termination of HIV positive staff services only because of their condition.

Singapore authorities say they were rushing to block access to information thrown on the Internet, allegedly by Mikhail Farrer Broche, though they warned it still has to be able to re-release it.

Since that leak, local media reported that Brochez was arrested in the United States for allegedly unauthorized entry to his mother's home, though it seems unconnected with data breaches.

Speaking of the Straits Times, she protested for her innocence and described reports of him as "terribly nasty and inaccurate".

HIV-positive psychologist Brochez arrived for the first time in the city-state in 2008 and used blood samples from his boyfriend, Dr. Ler Teck Sianga, to pass the HIV test and get a work permit.

He reportedly received information on HIV-positive people from Leon, who had access to the official HIV register.

In May 2016, the police seized documents, laptop computers, and mobile phones while browsing the Brochez & Ler apartments after receiving notification that the American might have confidential data.

Brochez was subsequently imprisoned for lying about his HIV status, using fake diplomas for getting work and taking drugs.

Last year he was deported from Singapore, but unknown to the authorities, still had HIV data, which he later published.

The authorities did not offer any explanation why Brochez had taken the data.

The government has been hit by the leak, which is another major breach of data detected within a few months – last year, health data of about 1.5 million Singaporeans were stolen in suspicious state hacking.

In a statement, the health ministry said the "well-being" of people affected by HIV transmission was their "priority", and provided support.

But for Rica, the damage has already been done, and he fears that some people with HIV will now refuse to seek treatment for safety reasons.

"I will not be surprised if fear brings people into the underworld."

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