Georgia State Representative Betty Price stirred controversy after suggesting a "quarantine" of Georgians living with HIV/AIDS during a House committee meeting.
State Rep. Betty Price, a Republican whose district includes parts of Atlanta's northern suburbs, asked the head of the Georgia Department of Public Health's HIV Epidemiology Section at Tuesday's meeting about stopping the spread of HIV - the virus that causes AIDS. "What would you advise or are there any methods legally that we could do that would curtail the spread?" Price is the wife of former U.S. Secretary of Health & Human Services Tom Price, who recently resigned after being caught using private charters on the taxpayers' dime.
She added: '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. The remarks were first reported by Project Q Atlanta, a local website serving the city's gay community.
"It's nearly frightening the number of people who are living that are...carriers with the potential to spread", she said. Instead, the epidemiologist called for the expansion of public health programs that identify untreated Georgians with HIV in order to help those people get proper care.
Scores of studies on more than 58,000 sex acts have shown that if a person is undetectable and stays on treatment, they can not pass HIV on to a partner. Worsley's presentation noted that gay black men in metro Atlanta have by far the highest rates of HIV diagnoses in Georgia.
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Rep Frederica Wilson , D-Fla., and Johnson's mother , Cowanda Jones-Johnson, confirmed the congresswoman's version was accurate. John Kelly tells reporters at the White House that the president had expressed his condolences "in the best way that he could".
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.
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.
Dazon Dixon Diallo of Georgia's Coalition to End HIV Criminalization told HIV Plus Mag that Price's comments proved there is work to be done on educating lawmakers about HIV/AIDS.
BELOW: Price's comments come around the 1:02 mark.
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