Last Tuesday, at a House study committee meeting addressing the barriers that HIV-positive people face, Betty Price – a doctor and wife of disgraced former HHS Secretary Tom Price – asked a state health official if people with HIV could be quarantined.
The news of her barbaric comments broke thanks to Better Georgia writer Regina Willis, who wrote a piece for Project Q.
Now, Price is claiming that her words were taken out of context. Let’s clear that up.
Here’s a direct transcription of Price’s question:
“My thinking sometimes goes in strange directions, 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? And I don’t want to say the quarantine word, 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?”
So, because the treatment for HIV is such a burden on the taxpayer, we should “curtail the spread” of the disease even at the cost of human rights?
It seems now that the nation has caught wind of her inhumane suggestion, Price is trying to backpedal to avoid criticism. She also claims that she was trying to be “provocative” with her suggestion.
Is “provocative” really what a lawmaker should strive for when dealing with a life-or-death topic like HIV? What about compassionate, informed or humane?
In fact, there was a lot that could have been done at the meeting to ensure a more appropriate approach.
Dazon Dixon Diallo, the founder and executive director of SisterLove, noted the lack of representation of people living with HIV on both the panel and among the presenters.
“[I am] absolutely disappointed and dismayed that we had a whole two-hour session today without a single presentation or a voice from the community, from people living with HIV, or from folks who have been actually victimized by these HIV criminalization statutes that we have in the state of Georgia,” Diallo said.
Involving people who live with HIV is one of the first steps toward ensuring that the legislation around their health is humane and effective.
But unfortunately, Price is just one of the many legislators to ignore how critical it is to acknowledge people with HIV and their humanity.
“When we come into spaces like this, and we hear questions around how legally far can we go to isolate people or even quarantine people, then it just lets you know that we have a real uphill battle,” Diallo said.