HIV patient defends Chelsea and Westminster clinic over privacy breach praising ‘world-leading’ care

A patient of the Dean Street clinic which disclosed the names and email addresses of hundreds of HIV service users has defended the centre claiming its services are ‘excellent and confidentiality is taken seriously’.

Thomas Anderson, 31, has used the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital clinic for the last eight years and was diagnosed with HIV in November 2013.

He told SW Londoner that since his diagnosis centre staff have offered great quality care and services assigning patient numbers when making appointments to ensure confidentiality.

He said: “Admitting you are HIV positive to family and friends can be a second ‘coming out’ and therefore the majority of people I know, both straight or gay, keep it hidden because of the stigma.

“The services art Dean Street have been nothing short of excellent and this data breach is clearly an accident.

“I haven’t been directly affected as I didn’t opt for the newsletter but I have 100% faith they will take the necessary steps to avoid it happening again and I will continue to use their services.”

Patients were supposed to be blind-copied into the newsletter but in this case it was sent as a group email to others who have attended HIV clinics there.

Mr Anderson said that despite living in Birmingham he commutes into London regularly for work and uses the centre due to the high quality of care he receives.

“London has the world-leading care for HIV service which is why I make the journey,” he explained. “I am undetectable and all research shows that while I remain on treatment I can’t pass on the virus.

“I think we need more positive role models of HIV people in the UK so it quite clear that a whole range of society have it, manage it and encourage people to get tested.”

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has ordered an inquiry into how the NHS handles medical information after the ‘completely unacceptable’ breach of privacy.

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is aware of the incident and is making enquiries.

The privacy watchdog can issues fines of up to £500,000 for data breaches.

Picture courtesy of Chesapeake Bay Program, with thanks

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