Singapore accused an American now living in Kentucky of illegally accessing and then posting the private information of 14,200 people living with HIV in Singapore. The leaked data matched Ministry of Health records up to 2013, including 8,800 foreigners who were diagnosed before December 2011. The data includes names, private addresses and phone numbers, reports The Washington Post.
That is just one plot point in a bizarre love story between the American, Mikhy K. Farrera-Brochez, and his Singaporean partner, Ler Teck Siang, MD, who was the head of the Ministry of Health’s national Public Health Unit from March 2012 to May 2013.
According to reports in the Post and Singapore’s The Straits Times, the two men met online in 2007 and fell in love, while Farrera-Brochez was living in Kentucky and the other in Singapore. Farrera-Brochez is HIV positive; Siang is not. The problem the couple encountered was that Singapore allows immigrants living with HIV to enter the country only for short-term visits. As early as 2008, in order to get Farrera-Brochez a work permit, Siang acted as Farrera-Brochez’s physician and submitted his own HIV-negative blood for testing in place of samples from his HIV-positive partner, ensuring that Farrera-Brochez could remain in Singapore.
Authorities in Singapore said they uncovered the phony blood tests in 2017. That year, Farrera-Brochez was jailed for 28 months for fraud, drug offenses and lying to the country’s labor agency, the Ministry of Manpower, about his HIV status. He was deported in 2018.
But that’s hardly the end of the story. Farrera-Brochez returned to Kentucky and last month apparently posted the personal data of HIV-positive people in Singapore that he acquired when his partner had access to those files as part of his work.
Officials have tried to scrub the internet of the files, but they remain worried that Farrera-Brochez could repost them.
The Singapore Ministry of Manpower reiterated that laws are in place to protect employees living with HIV from wrongful firings. To help mitigate the stress that people living with HIV might be facing in that country, several crisis and advocacy groups have responded with public campaigns and statements.
Meanwhile, back in Kentucky, Farrera-Brochez showed up at his mother’s house and refused to leave when asked. He now faces a charge of third-degree criminal trespassing.