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AIDS patient list released in error

The identities of AIDS and HIV patients in Palm Beach County are accidentally e-mailed.

Associated Press
Published February 21, 2005

WEST PALM BEACH - A confidential list of 4,500 Palm Beach County residents with AIDS and 2,000 who are HIV positive, including their addresses, was inadvertently e-mailed to more than 800 county workers, officials said.

Computer technicians quickly shut down the county health department's e-mail system and officials think only about 10 people opened the e-mail.

Palm Beach County Health Department director Dr. Jean Malecki has launched an investigation into the incident, said spokesman Tim O'Connor. She also asked the state health department's inspector general to conduct an independent inquiry.

Health Department statistician John W. "Jack" Nolan sent an e-mail with his monthly statistics report on Thursday and inadvertently attached a file with the identities and addresses of AIDS patients and others who have tested HIV positive, Tim O'Connor said.

Nolan realized his mistake within minutes and contacted the department's computer specialists who shut down the agency's e-mail system for about an hour, O'Connor said. He said they removed all copies of the e-mail from the system.

"We don't know the number of people who opened the attachment, but it appears to our information technology staff that only 10 people opened the e-mail," O'Connor said. "We have already contacted most of them and will contact the others Monday."

[Last modified February 21, 2005, 01:32:19]

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