Aetna settles with California in HIV-related privacy breach

Aetna will pay $935,000 after one of its vendors sent letters to California patients that revealed via a window on the envelopes that the recipients were taking HIV-related medications.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said the settlement resolves allegations that Aetna violated state health privacy laws.

Nearly 2,000 Californians — and 12,000 people nationwide — received the revealing letters in 2017.

Becerra said "a person's HIV status is incredibly sensitive information and protecting that information must be a top priority for the entire healthcare industry."

The Connecticut-based insurance giant said in a statement Aetna has since implemented measures "designed to ensure something like this doesn’t happen again as part of our commitment to best practices in protecting sensitive health information." Under the settlement, Aetna must complete an annual privacy risk assessment for three years.


Dawn Kamber