Last week, Georgia State Representative Betty Price, who is married to the former Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, asked the head of the Georgia Department of Public Health’s HIV epidemiology section what officials are “legally able to do” to limit the spread of HIV throughout the state. She went on to suggest that people living with HIV should be quarantined as a solution for stopping the spread of the virus which causes AIDS.
“Rep. Betty Price’s comments about people living with HIV are horrific, discriminatory, and astonishingly ill-informed. As a doctor and elected official from a state where people are still contracting HIV at an alarming rate, Mrs. Price should know better than to demonize people and perpetuate myths that stigmatize people living with HIV.
“Her words smack of a dark time when there was little or no information about HIV and people were afraid of each other. Today, thanks to scientific advancements, growing acceptance and love, people living with HIV are living longer, healthier lives. We also know people living with HIV pose no public threat.
“We at the Elton John AIDS Foundation, along with several of our partners, are aggressively working in Georgia and across the South to expand access to universal testing and treatment, particularly in rural areas. We also are working to dismantle the structural barriers including poverty, inadequate education, persistent HIV stigma, racism, homophobia and transphobia that impede progress. Instead of perpetuating fear and bias, Mrs. Price should educate herself about HIV and use her position of power to provide support, resources and compassion to her constituents. Love is the cure. Not quarantines.”