World AIDS Day 2016 - Candlelight vigil in Copenhagen

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People living with HIV and AIDS have faced a long history of stigmatization by the state and broader society. Unfortunately, ignorance is forever present, especially among politicians, particularly now.  People in power could potentially make it even more dangerous for people living with HIV to live their lives.

Georgia Republican state rep Betty Price asked on Tuesday about quarantining people living with HIV, citing that she “guessed” there are high costs to the government for medical services and care. Price also suggested they could surveil their sexual partners and track their contacts.

“My thinking sometimes goes in strange directions,’ Rep. Price admitted while attending a house study committee on Georgia’s barriers to access in adequate health care. “But before you proceed if you wouldn’t mind commenting on the surveillance of partners, tracking contacts, that sort of thing. What are we legally able to do?”

Let’s keep in mind that Price is a medical doctor and would rather ask about how to police people living with HIV rather than how to help and heal them. Oh, and her husband, Tom Price, is also the Trump administration’s former Health and Human Services Secretary.  We know where her #familyvalues lie.

“I don’t want to say the quarantine word,” Rep. Price said. “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 what would curtail the spread?”

It’s also important to note that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers Atlanta the epicenter of a new HIV/AIDS epidemic, compared to even developing African countries.

“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 said.

Project Q Atlanta has already released an important report that reflects what needs fixing in the existing policies around HIV and AIDS.

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 wrote. “They also argue HIV criminalization laws add stigma to HIV, keep people from getting tested, and oppress already marginalized populations such as LGBT people.”

When ill-informed people are tasked with responsibility of taking care of at-risk populations, it’s only natural that their ignorance will harm those most impacted.