Personal information of HIV/AIDS patients were leaked out of China by a nationwide telephone scam.
Outraged patients blamed the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for leaking their personal data such as nature of disease, phone numbers, addresses and office contact details.
There were at least 275 HIV/AIDS patients who were phoned by scammers since Friday. The callers promised to give them subsidies in return of payment of commissions to the authorities.
The scammers also have extensive knowledge of the patients' medical records, and the callers even knew where they were diagnosed with HIV/AIDS.
The National Health and Family Planning Commission said that the CDC has already informed the public safety officials. The commission stated, "The authority also has informed local CDC departments to be wary of similar scams and to remind patients in their areas to be on alert."
The law protects personal and medical information of all patients, including those who are infected with HIV/AIDS. Leaking of information without patients' consent is illegal.
Only the CDC is responsible for collating and storing of patients' data. If an HIV/AIDS patient refuses to register with the CDC, he will not receive free treatment.
China has been ostracizing patients with HIV/AIDS. Last December, 200 people signed a petition to expel an infected 8-year-old boy from his village.
The World Health Organization criticized the government for "infringement of patients' rights." According to the WHO, this kind of incidents will discourage patients from seeking treatment or getting tested.
In a statement, the WHO said, "The confidentiality of the personal and health information of anyone seeking HIV or other medical services must be safeguarded. The leak of personal information of people living with HIV is a violation of this fundamental right to patient confidentiality."