Georgia lawmaker asks whether its legal to 'quarantine' HIV patients

Tom and Betty Price.   Alex Wong  Getty Images

The former HHS chief - also a doctor and ex-congressman - is estimated to have taken $1 million worth of private flights with taxpayer money, some times accompanied by his wife.

Aside from the obvious moral implications-Price was more or less suggesting rounding up the disproportionately LGBTQ HIV-positive population-there's also the fact that this very bad solution would never work.

Georgia state Representative Betty Price, a Republican, this week asked whether the state can quarantine HIV-positive individuals.

"And I don't want to say the quarantine word, but I guess I just said it", Price asked Georgia state Department of Public Health HIV epidemiology chief Dr. Pascale Wortley at a study committee meeting this week.

"I don't want to say the quarantine word, but I guess I just said it", Price said during the October 17 meeting, which was recorded on video. "I do, however, wish to light a fire under all of us with responsibility in the public health arena". "So we have a public interest in curtailing the spread". Whereas, in the past, they died more readily, and then at that point, they are not posing a risk.

Jeff Graham, executive director of Georgia Equality, called Price's comments "incredibly disturbing" and evidence of the stigma that still exists around HIV.

CBS46 reached out to Price for comment for this report and so far we have not heard back.

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Meanwhile Wortley was discussing the possible treatment with the committee.

The state of Georgia ranks fifth among the country's highest rates of newly-diagnosed HIV patients, HIV Plus Mag reported. "So we've got a huge population posing a risk if they are not in treatment", Price said.

The lawmaker, who is also a qualified doctor, later added: "It seems to me it's nearly frightening the number of people who are living that are potentially carriers - 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".

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".

The hearing also included discussion of the state's HIV criminalization laws that not only make non-disclosure of a positive status before engaging in sexual contact a felony, but also criminalizes actions like spitting at police officers, which can bring a 20 year prison sentence.

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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