By Sandra Rose  | 

Aetna HIV

Aetna is facing a PR nightmare after 12,000 customers received letters that revealed their HIV status on the envelopes.

The Legal Action Center is pushing Aetna to correct the mistake that violated the privacy rights of 12,000 HIV-positive customers.

The letters were meant to relay health information to Aetna customers, but many of the envelopes revealed much more.

According to, text visible through a small window on the envelopes listed the patients’ names and suggested how they could fill their HIV prescriptions.

“People have been devastated. We’ve had a number of people tell us they had chosen not to disclose their HIV status to family members — but this is how their family members found out,” said Sally Friedman, legal director at Legal Action Center.

Aetna is in the process of notifying city and state health departments about the privacy breach in the mass mailings that went out on July 28.

“We sincerely apologize to those affected by a mailing issue that inadvertently exposed the personal health information of some Aetna members,” the spokesman said. “This type of mistake is unacceptable, and we are undertaking a full review of our processes to ensure something like this never happens again.”

The Aetna spokesman said the HIV status of "only a few" individuals were visible through the small window on the envelope -- and only if the letter "shifted within the envelope."

But Friedman said the customers' HIV status was visible in every letter that AIDS advocacy groups had seen.

She added that while Legal Action Center has handled numerous cases of privacy violations from health care providers, she could not recall any case involving an insurer.

Photo by KTSDesign/Science Photo Library/Getty Images

  • southern

    Uh oh the ? bout to hit the fan

  • PLEASEDontTellMe

    Totally unacceptable. I'm imagining that they used some industrialized letter folding machine. But i can't imagine that not one human looked at the envelopes before allowing them to go out. There is absolutely no excuse for this type of mistake.

  • Nonya Bizness

    C'mon now. What happened to 3 way folding a piece of paper, so the name and address is visible through the opening on the envelope, while the medical information is in the middle on the folded portion? My tin foil hat makes me think this wasn't a mistake. I don't know what the end game was, but this is too stupid to be accidental, imo.

  • WutizaGRANNY!

    I wonder how many of the HIV positive people will come forward..especially if they aren't ready to reveal this. For those who will comment on this and say the letter already gave it away.. People do live alone so their partners, and family may not still know..

  • pecancandy

    Aenta betta go ahead and open that purse.

  • WutizaGRANNY!

    I am shocked that they would send ANYTHING like that in the mail. It should have just said please contact us for your latest test results it is imperative to your health that you do so..

  • MissyJ

    Exactly.. Only the name and address should be at the top ANd we actually used to print name and address on the back so when folded the private information was inside... This sounds like it was done on purpose

  • PLEASEDontTellMe

    I don't think it was a notification. I think it was a prescription update

  • SingleGalCrazyWorld

    For real...this is a stickup I want everything in ya wallet LOL

  • JV

    If any of those letters had Usher's name on it, you know there would be a post and pics up here in a split second.

  • JV

    One person allegedly got put out.

  • Karen Brady

    Auntie, Bobby V is facing off with his tranny in Fulton County Court today. Can we get a post? Rickey Smiley had us in tears this morning.

  • HoneyyGoodMoneyy_

    finna take Aetna down to china town.

  • imright

    AIDS/HIV status should b public record. ??idc idc

  • imright

    wat ?? ??? tell me what he said.

  • AnotherBlackGirl

    I suspect many class

  • millz

    12,000 That's a lot of people infected ....

  • Karen Brady

    Ooh glad you asked. Okay Rickey said "Laawwd if they pull Bobby shoes and pants out of an evidence bag". Here go Rickey-
    (Prosecutor questioning Bobby V):
    "Sir were these your shoes?"
    "Sir where these your pants?"
    "Sir did you MASH the elevator button? Is this your fingerprint?"
    Now how in the FAWK Bobby gonna know hs fingerprint?!!
    When I tell you we were hollering in the car this morning. Rok T and them steady giggling.. Rickey is a fool.

  • stanhope

    The only fix for those robbers is $200,000 per victim.

  • stanhope

    Girl that would bust out not only your mama but all of those baby daddies you have.

  • stanhope

    Ricky is a sissy

  • Karen Brady

    Like for real for real?

  • Ms.Vanilla

    We have people walking around here with a loaded weapon called HIV/AIDS. Don't we have a right to know?

  • Tammie Reed

    Hell nawl!

  • IAmLegend

    No you don't have a right to know. Would you want the whole world (including employers) knowing your medical history? If you're not sleeping with the person, its none of your business. And even if you are, you should use protection until you can prove they don't have it.

  • stav

    That's not even .01 % of HIV/AIDS patients world wide.

  • WutizaGRANNY!

    Oh my God! That is soo sad! The stigma of HIV still exist. People are afraid..

  • WutizaGRANNY!

    Oh okay. I thought it was a notification of test results..

  • PlayerP

    You absolutely do if you're having sexual relations. If not, it is absolutely not your business.

  • IAmLegend

    If I was one of these ppl, I would be at the courthouse filing a lawsuit right now and holding a press conference. Aetna gon have to pay up lol

  • Angela Flowers

    It doesn't mean all those people were infected. It stated 12,000 customers had their status revealed. The status could have being positive or negative....

  • IAmLegend

    That is such an ignorant statement. In order for that to happen, everyone's medical history would have to be made public regardless of how minor or how serious. I would encourage you to reconsider your stance on this.

  • IAmLegend

    There are millions of people living with the disease in this country. Some don't even know they have it. Its more common than you may think.

  • Angela Flowers

    I agree.

  • Coffee1st

    Good lord.... Aetna better take a few Ativans and Oxy's cuz that rectum bout to get mutilated...

  • TheOwley

    And this is why we have HIPAA. How about that pesky $25K penalty x 12,000. "The Aetna spokesman said the HIV status of “only a few” individuals were visible through the small window on the envelope — and only if the letter “shifted within the envelope.” Good luck with getting 12,000 to agree those letters weren't visible.?

  • DaughterOfaQueen


  • Karen Brady


  • Chicagowise

    A lot of demented homosexuals are proud of their HIV + status. In fact, they openly brag about it online, as if being diseased is a badge of honor. Frankly, I don't think insurance companies should cover self-inflicted ailments. Most insurances won't pay for suicide attempts and they shouldn't pay for STDs, STIs, obesity, smoking, drug, and alcohol-related medical issues.

    However, the law is the law, and Aetna needs to be punished for disclosing protected information. If I am not mistaken, Aetna is now owned by United Healthcare, which is a horribly managed insurance company who frequently outsources their jobs overseas to places like India.

  • Chicagowise

    When it comes to HIV/AIDS, it falls under a special category of protected health information. A medical practice can get into major trouble for inadvertently disclosing a HIV/AIDS diagnosis.

    For example... let's say Mrs. Jones, who has AIDS, is treated for an injury sustained during a robbery. The insurance company requests medical records for more details. If the hospital releases info regarding the patient's AIDS status, and it has nothing to do with the current medical issue, that's a violation.

    By law, anyone with a communicable disease is supposed to inform their sexual partner, but how can that be enforced beforehand?

  • bhavana

    So if a woman gets an STD from her cheating husband, her health insurance shouldn't cover it? It's not her fault, but how can you prove otherwise? I think it would be dangerous and irresponsible for insurance companies to decide what is a self-inflicted ailment.

  • bhavana

    I would sue, but not hold a press conference. If you do that, the whole world will know your business.

  • Chicagowise

    Of course, what I'm proposing will never happen. It would be too difficult to enforce, but we need to impose tighter restrictions on what Medicaid covers, because it's funded by taxpayers. Private insurance is a different story and I should have made a distinction between the two.

  • Renee Bee


  • imright


  • imright

    sheesh ???

  • OP2

    The insurance company could easly remedy this via an exception clause in their policy to protect the victim or spouse in a marriage who was contracted an STD/HIV from a promiscuous spouse provided that the victim submit proof of pressing charges against the perpetrator. -in this way the victim is covered but not the perp who harmed the person.

  • OP2

    Such a large class action lawsuit will leave the victims with very little while the lawyers gets the majority of the payout. The smarter victims usually opt out and file their own separate suit.

  • Ebony N’ Sweet

    You are a straight up fool.. HIV is not self-inflected. There's plenty of documentation that has been De-classified that states HIV was an CIA Government experiment.African American prisoners was purposely infected with the virus in the late 60's. The government then came up with a lie stating it's a "gay" disease or that HIV came from eating Monkeys all of which that have been proven false. HIV is a designer (Virus) meaning it could have only been produced in a LAB. At this point the general public doesn't cares because it only effects the LGBT Community, the truth isn't widely known or talked about.

    The 30 million people infected with HIV shouldn't suffer because of this..... And it has been proven that Medication actually reduces the rate of infection to others. Medication gives hope... If there was no hope, there would be 10 million infections every year instead of 30,000k

    So shut the F*K Up.... and keep your opinions to yourself. It's a good thing that you are just a bum on the internet and don't hold any positions of power. Because that type of thinking is dangerous.

  • bemetoo

    did the government care who knew when the purposely infected blk prisoners in the 60s?? asking for person who doesnt give a fawk..

  • Karen Brady

    Yes... next thing you know they'll be leaving it up to the president to decide.

  • Chicagowise

    Most people contract HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, by means of intravenous drug use or unprotected sex. There are demented homosexuals who openly and proudly engage in risky, unprotected sex. In my book, their HIV status is self-inflicted and their treatment shouldn't be funded by taxpayers.

  • Chicagowise

    I like that idea.

  • Passion

    Blood transfusion is self inflicted.

  • Sistergirl

    Only if they are sleeping with you. HIV is now considered a chronic illness the same way diabetes and heart disease is....

  • Sistergirl

    A lot of people in their sixties have it because of the lack of awareness in the eighties. So don't be reckless coz your aunties and uncles and parents can be on these public records you are pushing for. There is always an innocent person in this illness.

  • SouthernGirlAZWorld

    Oh no! ????

  • SouthernGirlAZWorld

    Shoot were all doomed then.

  • DisGuess

    Oh on earth did they violate patient rights and comprise health information...Aetna is versed on HIPPA. I foresee lawsuits in their future.

  • SouthernGirlAZWorld

    Yes the same they infected all of those black people with syphllis "The Tuskegee Study"

  • imright

    i take it you have AIDS. ? hugs

  • KLo

    if you have HIV , ,why would you need a letter from your health care provider about your status , duh

  • Roderick2011

    Well damn!!!

  • Roderick2011

    Well damn!!

  • dontgetblocked

    A lawsuit? Pressing charges? Most people don't want to go public with their status...thus the reason for this post.

  • Omandesert

    i need to see one of the envelopes.

  • Coffee1st

    Double lawsuit.

  • Coffee1st

    Initially sounds harsh, considering how devastating the disease is. However, you make a really good point regarding the ones who contracted it through irresponsibility.Then again, I was pretty irresponsible back in my younger days, coulda been me... Now I'm conflicted.

  • Coffee1st

    Still protected health information. Just sayin.

  • Jussjess25

    How in the hell did that happen?? So a machine is stuffing, stamping and mailing out said letters??? ?? yea right

  • Jussjess25

    It was about medication or something the narritve said. Not just about the status

  • Chicagowise

    Some people don't realize, there are people who intentionally expose themselves to STDs and STIs, particularly, HIV/AIDS. They are called "bug-chasers." About 10 years ago, I overheard a conversation between two young black males, talking about their attempts to contract AIDS, so they could get a disability check. Not to mention the outrageous number of homosexuals who willfully engage in unprotected sex. A lot of them are on Medicaid and the taxpayers are literally paying for THEIR stupidity.

  • Angela Flowers

    I know that AND I wasn't talking to you. I was simply correcting the poster who I responded under. Just sayin.

  • Gotitbutsmh

    It's none of your damn business for real. Any more questions?

  • Gotitbutsmh

    Skip the class action suit and file on your own to keep more of the money.

  • ?Patty Kakes?

    I know that's right

  • rere

    Let me get my money & the best Medicine too, while we're at it! Thank you.

  • MRiGOThim

    I mean honestly its not your business, but wouldn't you wanna know if someone in your family or that you hang around with had it???

  • Coffee1st

    You're right. My bad. I was scrolling too fast I guess.
    Wasn't trying to be funny either way. Just throwing in my two cents like everyone else here in the comment section.

  • SandraRose

    The article states:

    "text visible through a small window on the envelopes listed the patients’ names and suggested how they could fill their HIV prescriptions."

    If they have HIV prescriptions it means they are all HIV positive.

  • MocaPretty

    Thank you Aetna bc ppl need to know. There are ppl concealing their status and having unprotected sex.

  • YellowSauce

    I don't trust people OR computers lol SMH


    So they are suing the insurance company because it was viewable but not the people or person who gave them Aids.... Only in America... I mean shouldnt they be more concerned with having Aids.... I don't know maybe its just me.... Oh yes America allows people to hide everything that people need to know...