It’s always shocking to me how little straight people seem to understand about HIV/AIDS. Friends and family members are constantly appalled when I casually mention PrEP—they literally have no idea about the advances in AIDS research and care.
So it’s not altogether surprising that Georgia state Representative Betty Price, the wife of former Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, pondered this week if people with AIDS could just be quarantined and kept locked away from the public.
During a hearing addressing a bill that Rep. Price pushed through earlier this year to extend needle-exchange programs, the anesthesiologist made some very disturbing remarks. “I don’t want to say the quarantine word—but I guess I just said it,” said Price, adding that the ability to quarantine people with AIDS existed. “We have a public interest in curtailing the spread,” she explained. “Are there any methods we could do legally to curtail the spread?”
She continued: “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 has since attempted to temper her remarks in a statement to the Atlanta Journal Constitution. “I made a provocative and rhetorical comment as part of a free-flowing conversation which has been taken completely out of context. I do not support a quarantine in this public health challenge and dilemma of undertreated HIV patients. I do, however, wish to light a fire under all of us with responsibility in the public health arena.”
So now we’re supposed to believe that Price was merely playing Devil’s Advocate, sensationalizing a disease that people live with every day to “light a fire.” Sure, Jan.