Kansas Bill To Quarantine HIV And AIDS Sufferers Close To Being Passed

A proposed bill in Kansas that is pretty close to being passed calls for people with HIV or AIDS to be quarantined or to “have their movements restricted.”

The proposed bill would actually be an amendment to Kansas’ current health statute to allow for the quarantine of people with infectious diseases. Now is the part where you, with even a minor understanding of HIV and AIDS, point out that these diseases can’t be passed through casual contact like, say, Tuberculosis.

Well, you’re right. They can’t. That’s exactly what Democratic Sen. Marci Francisco is saying. She’s trying to get people suffering from HIV or AIDS exempted from the bill before it passes, but strangely, it seems to be an uphill battle.

Indeed, support for the bill seems to stem from poor state education as to how HIV and AIDS are transmitted, according to Cody Patton, the Executive Director of the sexual health charity Positive Directions.

“We live in a very conservative state and I’m afraid there are still many people, especially in rural Kansas, that have inadequate education and understanding concerning HIV/AIDS,” Patton said. “My fear would not be the state uses the law as some way to move all people living with HIV/AIDS into an isolated community, but that this law could allow some county employee to use this law to justify their religious beliefs over their professional responsibilities and discriminate against people with HIV/AIDS.”

Kansas actually banned the quarantine of people with AIDS in 1988. If this new law is passed, the fear is that health officials will be able to intimidate people with HIV and AIDS with the threat of isolation from non-infected friends or family.

Another opponent, Michael Weinstein, President of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, said that the new amendment reminds him of the “earliest, darkest days” of the AIDS epidemic.

“At best, it is short-sighted of Kansas legislators to reject Senator Francisco’s amendment. It either shows how little they understand about HIV and how it is transmitted – it is not spread through casual contact such as TB or other airborne communicable diseases – or it shows that they want the ability to quarantine people, and/or discriminate against them in other ways as they see fit.

“For the senators, either choice shows a real lack of understanding about public health and safety—one of the most basic services that is government’s role to ensure.”

Still, it is widely held that the law will be voted on and passed in the next few weeks. Expect protests.

Do you think that people with HIV or AIDS should be quarantined?