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Aetna settles California lawsuit over HIV privacy breach

California’s attorney general said Aetna will pay $935,000 to settle allegations the health insurer violated state privacy laws when it mistakenly mailed letters to patients that disclosed they were taking HIV medication.

Aetna mailed the letters in July 2017 to 12,000 patients across the nation, including almost 2,000 in California. Their HIV medications were revealed through a clear window on the envelopes.

“A person’s HIV status is incredibly sensitive information and protecting that information must be a top priority for the entire healthcare industry,” California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said in a press release announcing the settlement. “Aetna violated the public’s trust by revealing patients’ private and personal medical information. We will continue to hold these companies accountable to prevent such a gross privacy violation from reoccurring.”

Aetna previously agreed to pay $17 million to settle claims under a private class action brought by victims of the mailing error. It also settled a lawsuit with New Jersey related to the privacy breach.