TOPEKA, Kan. — A proposed bill in the Kansas state legislature could allow the quarantine of people with AIDS or HIV, according to an LGBT advocacy group in testimony before a Kansas state Senate panel on Thursday.
The measure, HB 2183, would authorize the state’s Secretary of Health and Environment the authority “to prevent the spread and dissemination of diseases injurious to the public health, including, but not limited to, providing for the testing for such diseases and the isolation and quarantine of persons afflicted with or exposed to such diseases.”
The bill’s intent is to protect the public health by controlling “infectious or contagious diseases” such as HIV.
“There is no reason why anybody with HIV or AIDS should be subject to quarantine,” said Tom Witt, executive director of the Kansas Equality Coalition, in a hearing before the Senate committee on Public Health and Welfare. “This is a civil rights issue.
Witt told lawmakers he supported efforts to protect emergency personnel, but said one of the changes in the bill would remove a current provision that exempts those with HIV or AIDS from possible quarantine.
Kansas Department of Health and Environment officials said they want to remove that exemption because HIV and AIDS are infectious.
Paul Marx, an associate chief counsel with the KDHA, said there would be no medical reason to isolate or quarantine a person infected with HIV or suffering from AIDS, but added, “I can’t say that would never happen, if the virus were to mutate.”
“KDHE is very sensitive to the concerns expressed by Mr. Witt. There is no intent, no desire to discriminate,” Marx said.
The committee took no action on the bill.
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