Aetna faces class-action lawsuit after exposing customers' HIV status

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Legal groups Monday filed a class-action lawsuit against Aetna, alleging the health insurer violated customers' privacy by inadvertently revealing the HIV status of about 12,000 people, according to The Hill.

Aetna revealed the HIV status of the members when it mailed letters with information clearly visible through a window on the envelopes about filling prescriptions for HIV medications as well as pre-exposure prophylaxis, a pill that helps prevent a person from contracting HIV. Aetna said a vendor who mailed the letters in late July used the windowed envelopes.

Patients in Arizona, Georgia, Illinois, California, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York and the District of Columbia contacted attorneys after receiving the letters.

On Monday, the AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania, the Legal Action Center and Berger & Montague filed the lawsuit against Aetna on behalf of affected customers. The lawsuit claims the insurer violated HIPAA by sending the letters with the confidential information exposed. 

Aetna apologized last week to those affected by the mailing issue. The insurer said it is reviewing its processes to ensure a similar incident does not occur in the future.

The lawsuit demands Aetna stop sending customers' information about HIV medications through the mail, reform its procedures and pay damages, according to The Hill.

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