Support for those targeted by HIV, drug use data breach

Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations and National Association of People with HIV Australia

People being targeted for blackmail over their HIV status or drug use through the Medibank Private data breach are urged to contact the Australian Federal Police and dedicated counselling and support services.

The Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations (AFAO) and the National Association of People with HIV Australia (NAPWHA) have today had consultations with Medibank Private and the Australian Federal Police.

AFAO CEO Darryl O’Donnell said:

“When someone’s confidential health information is exposed it can profoundly affect their health, relationships and employment. Many people will find this deeply distressing.

“We understand people with HIV who have been affected by the data breach will already have been contacted by Medibank.

“This should never have happened and it must never happen again. However we are reassured that both the federal police and Medibank Private are approaching it with sensitivity and good faith. We urge anyone targeted by blackmailers to immediately contact AFP for assistance. Support is available from Medibank and from community HIV support services.”

NAPWHA President, Scott Harlum said:

“Stigma is real and impacts people’s lives. The weaponisation of HIV status for financial gain is beneath contempt.

“While many people living with HIV are public about their status, some can never be without putting their safety at risk. These people are now capable of being exploited by blackmailers. The message from community leaders is clear and unambiguous – call the federal police and counselling services. You will be provided with the support and assistance you need.”

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