Georgia State Rep. Betty Price, wife of former Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, ignited a social media firestorm over the weekend when a video of her suggesting people with HIV should be quarantined was published by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Forced to respond, Price defended her comments as “provocative” in a statement released on Saturday.
Price’s original comments, she alleges, were taken out of context from a panel discussion on HIV and AIDS prevention called together by Emory University professor Wendy Armstrong. Knowledge of the committee’s discussion topic, however, doesn’t exactly mitigate her apparent musings on involuntary quarantine.
“What are we legally able to do? And I don’t want to say the quarantine word, but I guess I just said it,” Price opined in the committee last week. “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. What would you advise or are there any methods legally that we could do that would curtail the spread?”
Quarantine, Price said in a statement, was not something she supported. She’s a physician with more than a decade of service on the Fulton County Health Board, for chrissakes! So, as a physician, she must be well-aware that HIV cannot be transmitted through casual contact and therefore unlikely to be eradicated by quarantine.
“I made a provocative and rhetorical comment as part of a free-flowing conversation which has been taken completely out of context,” Price said. “I do not support a quarantine in this public health challenge and dilemma of undertreated HIV patients.”
Wondering if people who are HIV positive can be legally quarantined might be “provocative,” but misinformed and borderline maniacal, I posit, are better adjectives to describe Price’s comments, which you can watch in full below: