GOP State Lawmaker Suggests Quarantining People With HIV, Says It’s ‘Almost Frightening’ How Many Are Living Longer


Republican State Rep. Is Also a Medical Doctor and Wife of Former Trump Administration HHS Secretary Tom Price

Georgia Republican state Representative Betty Price on Tuesday inquired about quarantining people living with HIV, citing what she "guessed" are the high costs to the government for medical services and care. In addition to suggesting the possibility of quarantining people living with HIV, she also inquired about surveilling their sexual partners and tracking their contacts. And she appeared to imply that because of medical advances, people are living longer with HIV/AIDS than in decades past, and therefore are posing a greater risk because "in the past they died more readily." 

The presumption that people living with HIV/AIDS are posing a risk to the general population in general or because they are living longer is both false and extraordinarily offensive.

Rep. Betty Price, who is also a medical doctor and happens to be the wife of former Trump administration Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, made her disturbing remarks at a House committee meeting designed to improve state residents' access to health care, as Regina Willis at Project Q Atlanta reported Friday. 

(Price's remarks can be heard in the two-hour video above, starting at the 1:02:10 mark.)

"My thinking sometimes goes in strange directions," Rep. Price admitted, "but before you proceed if you wouldn't mind commenting on the surveillance of partners, tracking of contacts, that sort of thing. What are we legally able to do?" she asked Dr. Pascale Wortley, director of the HIV Epidemiology Section for Georgia Department of Health.

"And I don't want to say the quarantine word," Rep. Price continued, "but I guess I just said it. Is there an ability, since I would guess that public dollars are expended heavily in prophylaxis and treatment of this condition, so we have a public interest in curtailing the spread. What would you advise or are there any methods legally that we could do that would curtail the spread?" Price continued.

Price is essentially suggesting that people who avail themselves of government benefits are somehow required to submit to unconstitutional acts is false.

It's curious that Price, a medical doctor, would cite financial costs as opposed to helping people as the motivation for "curtailing the spread" of HIV/AIDS.

Price also falsely and offensively suggested that people living with HIV/AIDS just are not dying as fast as they used to, and therefore pose a risk to the population. 

"It seems to me it's almost frightening the number of people who are living that are potentially carriers, well not carriers, with the potential to spread, whereas in the past they died more readily and at that point they are not posing a risk. So we've got a huge population posing a risk if they are not in treatment," Price also said.

Project Q Atlanta's report also includes several other important points:

If HIV is virally suppressed, the disease is considered untransmittable, which is at the core of a nationwide awareness campaign called "Undetectable = Untransmittable" or "U=U."

On Tuesday, the hearing also included discussion about Georgia's HIV criminalization laws. State law makes it a felony for an HIV-positive person to engage in sex without first disclosing their status. The laws also criminalize acts like spitting when the behavior is directed at law enforcement officers with penalties that include up to 20 years in prison.

HIV advocates have been lobbying state lawmakers to change the laws to better reflect current science around HIV, which shows that the virus can't be transmitted through spitting nor when an HIV-positive person is virally suppressed. They also argue HIV criminalization laws add stigma to HIV, keep people from getting tested, and oppress already marginalized populations such as LGBT people.

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