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London clinic accidentally publishes HIV status of 780 patients

Joseph McCormick September 2, 2015

A leading sexual health and HIV care centre in London has accidentally revealed the HIV status of 780 patients.

The clinic, 56 Dean Street, sent an email newsletter to the patients revealing their status, names and contact details to one another.

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The newsletter (redacted to hide names) was sent, revealing the names of those on the list

This happened as the staff member who sent the email included the mailing list in the ‘to’ list, rather than sending a blind copy using ‘bcc’.

Dean Street sent its ‘OptionE’ newsletter, which allows HIV-positive patients to receive news and information, as well as make appointments and receive test results online, on Tuesday.

Realising the mistake, the email was ‘recalled’, so all recipients received a notification that it had been sent in error.

Shortly afterwards, all recipients received an apology from the clinic, which called the breach “completely unacceptable”.

The apology, sent to PinkNews reads: “I’m writing to apologise to you. This morning at around 11.30am at we sent you the latest edition of OptionE newsletter.

“This is normally sent to individuals on an individual basis but unfortunately we sent out today’s email to a group of email addresses. We apologise for this error.

“We recalled/deleted the email as soon as we realised what had happened. If it is still in your inbox please delete it immediately.

“Clearly this is completely unacceptable. We are urgently investigating how this has happened and I promise you that we will take steps to ensure it never happens again. We will send you the outcome of the investigation.”

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The clinic initially attempted to recall the email

The clinic has since set up a helpline for those affected by the breach.

It is unclear what will happen next, however the clinic, which is run by the Chelsea and Westminster NHS trust, is likely to be subject to an investigation.

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The apology from 56 Dean Street

The Information Commissioner’s Office can levy fines of up to £500,000 for breaches.

PinkNews has reached out to 56 Dean Street for comment.

More to follow

More: 56 dean street, clinic, hi, HIV, sexual health

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