Legislators in Kansas are considering a bill that could lead to people with HIV or AIDS being quarantined.
House Bill 2183, which has passed in the state Senate, amends Kansas’ public-health regulations to allow for the isolation of people with “infectious diseases.”
Lawmakers refused to add an exemption for people with HIV/AIDS , which AIDS Healthcare Foundation director Michael Weinstein says “either shows how little they understand about HIV and how it is transmitted… or it shows that they want the ability to quarantine people, and/or discriminate against them in other ways as they see fit.” Weinstein says either rationale reveals “a real lack of understanding about public health and safety.”
The measure was originally proposed to aid EMTs and firefighters in finding out if someone they were exposed to is a carrier for any infectious diseases. But, manipulated by the wrong people, it could easily lead to widespread discrimination of HIV-positive Kansas residents.
“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,” says Cody Patton, Executive Director of Positive Directions. Patton said he’s not so much afraid that the measure would lead to leper colonies for HIV-positive people, but that it could let bigots “justify their religious beliefs over their professional responsibilities and discriminate against people with HIV/AIDS.”