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Imagine you're at the doctor's office and the nurse calls out your name and tells the entire waiting room that you're there for a follow-up of your positive HIV test. You would most likely feel pretty violated. That's probably similar to what a group of patients is feeling after their HIV status was revealed by a CVS mailing. Now, at least three patients are suing.
A Bit Too Transparent
The federal lawsuit claims that CVS hired Fiserv to mail letters to patients regarding Ohio's HIV drug assistance program. Unfortunately, the envelopes had glassine windows which revealed 6,000 patient names, addresses, and the fact that they were part of the HIV program. CVS told CNN that the window was supposed to show a reference code for the program, not the patient's health status.
Fear of Being Stigmatized
One plaintiff says he "feels that CVS has essentially handed a weapon to anyone who handled the envelope, giving them the opportunity to attack his identity or cause other harm to him." The other two live in small towns and fear the stigma associated with being HIV positive. One man says he has "experienced complications and health issues" since the disclosure.
The plaintiffs allege that CVS failed to announce the breach of privacy, and failed to contact all the patients whose status was revealed. They are suing both CVS and Fiserv, and are seeking a class-action lawsuit and a jury trial.
If you or someone you know has suffered a privacy violation, you may be able to hold someone accountable for that breach. Contact a personal injury attorney to better understand your options.