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INVESTIGATION BEGUN INTO MISSING HIV TEST DATA

July 17, 2003 – The Health Department has begun an internal investigation to determine what has become of HIV test information from 22 persons on St. John, and who is responsible for its disappearance.
Health Commissioner Mavis Matthew said in a statement issued on Thursday that "the missing information contains no test results, as the test specimens must be sent off island for that purpose."
According to an account published in the V.I. Daily News on Thursday, the information was collected during a National HIV Testing Day event held on St. John on June 28. The test material disappeared sometime between then and July 9, the paper reported, and a Health Department administrator called police on July 14 to report that confidential documents were missing from the department's clinic in Hospital Ground.
So far into the investigation, Matthew said, "no conclusion can be drawn as to whether or not sensitive information belonging to individuals has been disclosed to unauthorized persons." There also has been no indication of whether the missing material has inadvertently been misplaced or was deliberately taken without authorization.
If a breach of confidentiality has occurred, Matthew said, the Health Department will "levy sanctions" against those found to be involved in any unauthorized use or disclosure of the information. Department policy provides for both civil and criminal actions, and for the immediate firing of any employee found to be involved, she said.
Matthew said the department "is sincerely regretful" for what happened "and apologizes for any harm resulting from the issue."

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