By now, doctors have been trained to think about the ramifications of patient privacy before taking action. We make sure that first name and last initial are on the operating room scheduling board. On hospital room doors – same thing. We ask for authorization before posting a patient’s picture on social media. It has not been easy adapting to this new world. 

That’s why I’m scratching my head on this. 

Aetna Health Insurance sent mail to some of its insured disclosing they were taking HIV medications.  

So what, you might say.  

The problem is that the envelope had a ridiculously large transparent covering which delivered this fact to the mailman, plus many other people at the patient’s house or business who might have brought in the mail. 

The large clear window had the patient’s name and address. It also explained where the patient could purchase their HIV medication.  


The AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania and Legal Action Center sent a cease and desist letter to Aetna informing them of the HIPAA violation. Apparently many of the individuals who received the letter have already filed direct complaints with the Office of Civil Right of Dept Health and Human Services.  

Of course, HIV is a treatable condition. But, there is still widespread stigma in employment, education, housing, etc.  

In one press release, additional legal action is under consideration. By the time this blog I published, it will have been fully considered and implemented. 

What do you think? Share your comments below.

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