Aetna enveloped letters display patients’ HIV medication details


The Legal Action Center and the AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania stated that Aetna, a health care firm, mailed enveloped that disclosed the HIV status of its clients in different states.

The legal firm and with other bodies are standing in for the clients, a group who feels offended after neighbors and friends saw the mailed envelopes and learned of their HIV status. Attorneys called on Aetna, on behalf of the devastated customers via demand letter, asking them to devise a new method of dispatching results.

According to Aetna, the letters reached about 12,000 clients, and the law firm said they have gotten up to 23 complaints, with more that are yet to come.

News release by the law organization

The law group stated that Aetna’s enveloped mails included guidelines for filling a prescription, and was forwarded to customers under HIV medications as well the preventive pill against HIV – pre-exposure prophylaxis or PrEP. The details can be seen clearly via the window on the envelopes.

Legal Action Center’s legal director, Sally Friedman pointed a case where someone was sent out of his home because some learned of his HIV status through the envelope sent to him. Friedman, in collaboration with the executive director he AIDS LAW Project in Pennsylvania; Ronda B. Giold Fein is coordinating the attorneys’ efforts.

In the demand letter sent to Aetna by the Legal firm, patients, Illinois, Ohio, New York, Arizona, Georgia, California, District of Columbia and Pennsylvania got the mailed envelopes and reached out to the attorneys.

Friedman said that those living with HIV feel they can opt for medical care without the notice of their neighbors or their personal information being shared illegally with their family. He added that when an insurance firm goes against this, it can cause patients to steer clear from their services.

Aetna tenders apology

In a letter sent to affected clients by Aetna discussing the situation, the initial letters were sent on July 28 and 31, and Aetna was later informed that the personal details of their customers were not protected accordingly.

The letter by Aetna on August 2 revealed that the vendor that handled the letters made use of windowed envelope, and the letters may have shifted to expose the personal information of the windowed part. However, they apologized in a statement, stating that such scenario is unacceptable. As such; they are reviewing their process to prevent such thing from happening again.

While next steps are being analyzed, Friedman said the clients and their attorneys want to ensure that Aetna puts an end to sending letters that contain personal data about the HIV medications of their patients.