Representative Betty Price (R-GA) has received backlash for asking if people with HIV should be quarantined. Price, who is married to former Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, posed the question at a public meeting over the weekend.
"I don't want to say the 'quarantine' word, but I guess I just said it...What would happen if you advise, or are there any methods legally, that we could do that would curtail the spread?" Price asked Dr. Pascale Wortley, director of the HIV Epidemiology Surveillance Section at the state Department of Public Health.
Price, a former board member of the Medical Association of Atlanta and the Medical Association of Georgia, also said that the number of HIV carriers is "almost frightening" because of the "potential to spread."
"Whereas in the past, they died more readily, and that point, they are not posing a risk," Price added for good measure. "So, we've got a huge population posing a risk if they're not in treatment."
There was intense backlash on social media and even Elton John weighed in, describing Price's comments as "horrific." She addressed the controversy in a statement to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Saturday. Price stated that her words were "taken completely out of context" and that she was simply being "provocative." She added that she's not in favor of a quarantine, but she made the "rhetorical" statement because she's worried that "too many of our fellow citizens who have HIV are not compliant."
Murray Penner, executive director of the National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors (NASTAD) described Price's comments as "abhorrent" in a statement to Bustle. "It really is something that further stigmatizes — it works against everything advocacy groups are trying to achieve in terms of access to care, and getting people treatment," Penner said.
Refinery29 has reached out to Price's office for comment.