Georgia Lawmaker Suggests Quarantining People Who Are HIV Positive

Betty Price

Tom Price is a former Georgia GOP congressman who represented former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R)'s old district, Georgia's District 6 - which encompasses some of Atlanta's most affluent neighborhoods.

However, Price is not the first Republican to propose quarantining people with HIV.

The wife of ex-Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price is trying to clarify her suggestion that people with HIV should be quarantined.

Betty Price, who is a former anesthesiologist, made the comments at a House study committee meeting on Tuesday, addressing the barriers to adequate healthcare that HIV-positive people face, Project Q Atlanta reports.

"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", she said.

"What are we legally able to do?" she asked fellow hearing attendee Dr Pascale Wortley, director of Georgia Department of Public Health's HIV/AIDS Epidemiology Surveillance Section. "What would you advise or are there any methods legally that we could do that would curtail the spread".

"It's nearly frightening the number of people who are living that are carriers with the potential to spread", Price said during the hearing.

Georgia ranks fifth among states for new HIV diagnoses. Well they are carriers, with the potential to spread, whereas in the past they died more readily and then at that point they are not posing a risk.

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Jeff Graham, executive director of the LGBT advocacy group Georgia Equality, said that Price's comments were a sign of the stigma that still exists around HIV.

Later in the hearing, Price lamented improvements to HIV treatment that prevent patients from dying, thereby "posing a risk" to the rest of the population.

Rep. Price did not immediately respond to STAT's request for further comment.

The committee on which Price serves was convened to study reforms to the state's approach to chronic illnesses, including its HIV criminalization laws.

Schoettes wrote: "As advocates for people living with HIV, we have dedicated our lives to combating this disease and no longer feel we can do so effectively within the confines of an advisory body to a president who simply does not care".

Georgia was home to almost 50,000 people diagnosed with HIV in 2014, and had the second highest rate of new diagnoses among all states the following year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

A person with HIV becomes "undetectable" when treatment suppresses the virus to a level so low in their blood that it can not be detected by measurements.

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