HIV Status Data Breach – Could You Claim Compensation?

An HIV status data breach can have a significant effect on your mental health and financial wellbeing. Human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV, is a virus that damages the immune system and weakens the body’s ability to tackle disease and infections. 

HIV status data breach

HIV status data breach claims guide

In this guide, we’ll explain what a personal data breach is, and how a breach could impact you financially or psychologically. Additionally, we’ll provide you with information on who could be eligible to make a claim for data breach compensation. These criteria are set out in data protection legislation, which we will also explain further in this article.

Finally, we will explore how legal representation could benefit your claim. Our panel of solicitors work on a No Win No Fee basis. To learn more, read on or get in contact with our advisors:

Select A Section

  1. What Is A HIV Status Data Breach?
  2. The Data Breach At 56 Dean Street
  3. What Can Cause A Personal Data Breach?
  4. How Could Leaking Your HIV Status Impact You?
  5. What Could I Claim For A Breach Of HIV Data?
  6. How To Claim For An HIV Status Data Breach

What Is A HIV Status Data Breach?

As we discuss the different effects a HIV status data breach could have on you, we need to first provide the definition of a data breach

A personal data breach occurs when personal data has been lost, destroyed, accessed by an unauthorised person, verbally disclosed, or altered. Personal data is protected for UK residents under the UK General Data Protection Regulation (UK GDPR) and the Data Protection Act 2018 (DPA). 

Personal data is any information that could identify you, such as your full name, email address, or phone number. Your HIV status classes as health data, which requires extra protection under data protection law. This is because health data is part of a subcategory of personal data called special category data.

To find out if you could be eligible to make an HIV status data breach claim, contact our team of advisors today.

The Data Breach At 56 Dean Street

56 Dean Street is an STD testing clinic based in London and run by the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust. In a newsletter from 2015, the clinic accidentally revealed 781 patient’s email addresses to each other through a batch email data breach. This happened because of a failure to use BCC, or blind carbon copy. This feature allows email addresses in batch emails to remain anonymous. However, in failing to use this feature, the clinic allowed the email addresses of all the recipients to be exposed.

Although 781 people were affected by this breach, 730 email addresses were on the list that contained the full names of their owners. The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), the independent body responsible for enforcing data protection law, fined the NHS trust £180,000 following the breach.

( Source: )

For more information about making an HIV status data breach claim, contact our advisors today.

What Can Cause A Personal Data Breach?

A personal data breach can occur for a number of reasons, from human error to cyber-attacks. Some examples of how data breaches can occur include:

  • Failure to use BCC: Failing to use the BCC feature in batch emails can result in a personal data breach by exposing the email addresses of recipients.
  • Failure to redact: Failing to redact personal data such as names, addresses, and phone numbers in documents that will be shared. This can lead to unauthorised parties gaining access to personal information.
  • Ransomware: Ransomware is a type of computer virus that steals personal information, encrypts it, and holds it for ransom.

However, to make a claim following a personal data breach, you must be able to prove that the breach was a result of the organisation’s failings. For example, to claim for an HIV status data breach following a ransomware attack, you must be able to prove that the organisation responsible for your data did not have adequate cybersecurity protocols in place.

You must also suffer harm as a result of the breach. This can be psychological or financial harm. Finally, the breach must affect your personal data.

Contact our advisors today to learn more about who is eligible to claim for a personal data breach.

Rates Of Data Breach Events In Healthcare Settings

The ICO’s data security incident trends show the different forms of non-cyber incidents and cyber attacks that have impacted the different sectors of business. For example, in Q4 of the 2021/22 financial year, there were 2,172 reported data security incidents. Of this number, 427 reported incidents occurred in the health sector. 

How Could A Breach Of Your HIV Status Impact You?

An HIV status data breach could have a significant effect on your mental health. For example, you may suffer from anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a result of the stress of the breach.

On the other hand, you could suffer financially. For example, you may have to take time away from work as a result of the stress of the breach, which could lead to losing out on earnings. If a breach includes your banking details, this could lead to criminals stealing money from your account.

To find out if you make a claim for the effects of a personal data breach, contact our advisors.

What Could I Claim For A Breach Of HIV Data?

Data breach compensation is split into two different categories. Material damage compensates for any financial losses that result from a data breach. For example, a breach of your debit or credit card information could lead to criminals stealing money from your account. You could claim these losses back under material damage.

Additionally, if you have suffered any psychological injuries such as emotional distress, anxiety, or depression, you claim for non-material damage. Previously, non-material damage could only be claimed at the same time as material damage. However, following the Court of Appeal ruling in Vidal-Hall and Others v Google Inc [2015], claims for non-material damage can be made alone or with material damage.

The table below shows a few examples of what you could claim under non-material damage with guideline figures from the Judicial College Guidelines (JCG). The JCG is a document that often helps data breach solicitors to value non-material damage amounts.

Injuries Compensation Description of injuries
Mental injury: Severe (a) £54,830 to £115,730 A poor prognosis and inability to cope with daily life. All aspects of life have been impacted.
Mental injury: Moderately Severe (b) £19,070 to £54,830 A more optimistic prognosis than above, though similar issues continue.
Mental injury: Moderate (c) £5,860 to £19,070 Symptoms show a marked improvement by the time of trial.
Mental injury: Less Severe (d) £1,540 to £5,860 Award is dependent on the length of disability and its effect on daily activities.
Anxiety disorder following trauma: Severe (a) £59,860 to £100,670 No remaining function at the pre-trauma level, with permanent and severe effects in all areas of life.
Anxiety disorder following trauma: Moderately Severe (b) £23,150 to £59,860 Some recovery is possible with professional treatment, allowing a brighter prognosis.
Anxiety disorder following trauma: Moderate (c)

£8,180 to £23,150 Any lingering effects of the illness aren’t grossly disabling and the recovery is ongoing.
Anxiety disorder following trauma: Less Severe (d) £3,950 to £8,180 Recovery is achieved within 1-2 years, though some minor effects may continue to persist.


Please note that these amounts are guidelines. The amount you can receive can vary. If you want more advice on claiming for material and non-material damage, contact one of our advisors today. 

How To Claim For An HIV Status Data Breach

If you have been affected by an HIV status data breach and are looking to make a claim for compensation, we can help. Here at Public Interest Lawyers, our panel of data protection solicitors can provide you with legal representation under a No Win No Fee arrangement. 

 A No Win No Fee or Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA) is designed to help you to fund legal representation with low financial risk. There are no upfront or ongoing fees when you hire a solicitor under a CFA. If your case is successful, you will pay a success fee. This is a percentage of your compensation with a legal cap, and your solicitor will discuss this with you beforehand. However, if your claim does not succeed, you do not pay this fee.

Contact our advisors today to learn more. If your claim is valid, they may connect you with a solicitor from our panel. To get in touch:

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Contact our advisors for further queries on what to do following an HIV status data breach.

Article by LE

Publisher AA