The HIV status of thousands of Aetna health insurance subscribers, including more than 600 in New Jersey, is at risk of being revealed because of a problem with the packaging used for letters the company sent out.

According to a letter the provider sent to patients, the privacy breach happened at the end of July in a mailing referring to "pharmacy benefits and access to medications." The letter said because of a larger address window than required, some patients' personal information was visible, including their HIV status.

The letter said for some people their regular mailing information was visible in addition to information for filling various prescriptions.

"The viewable information did not include the name of any particular medication or any statement that you have been diagnosed with a specific condition," the letter said. "Your Social Security number, bank account information and credit card information were not included in the letter."

Aetna also released a statement apologizing for the error.

"We sincerely apologize to those affected by a mailing issue that inadvertently exposed the personal health information of some Aetna members," the statement said. "This type of mistake is unacceptable, and we are undertaking a full review of our processes to ensure something like this never happens again."

The company encouraged subscribers who were concerned about their privacy to call 1-800-326-5608.

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Contact reporter Adam Hochron at 609-359-5326 or

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