A proposed Kansas law could lead, claim campaigners, to people living with HIV or AIDS to effectively being quarantined.
The law would negate the need for a firefighter or paramedic to secure a court order to test a victim’s blood for infectious diseases. If tested positive for HIV, these victims would be able to be quarantined.
The proposed law would overturn a ban on the practice passed in 1988.
“They didn’t get that whole idea of being discriminated against,” said Cody Patton of Positive Directions said. “They didn’t get that that stuff still happens today. My concern is that there’s a lot of people in this state that are still fearful of HIV that don’t look at factual information.”
Elena Ivanov, Executive Director, Douglas County AIDS Project (DCAP) said: “I am disappointed and saddened that people living with HIV/AIDS are no longer exempt from quarantine under current law in Kansas. The Kansas Senate has voted to pass HB 2183 and has rejected the amendment to exempt people living with HIV/AIDS. This bill will harm people living with HIV/AIDS and stands as poor public health policy.
“Under the bill people who have HIV can be separated and have their movement in Kansas restricted. The use of quarantine and isolation powers by the state officials will exasperate many sensitive issues related to the civil liberties of these individuals and create unnecessary and prolonged hardships for all those infected and affected by HIV/AIDS.
“This bill will further decrease their low self-esteem and deepen their suffering from anxiety and depression. Moreover, it will further increase the stigma, associated with the chronic disease and hamper the efforts of organizations, such as Douglas County AIDs Project (DCAP), which combat its spread. These individuals will now worry about punishment, fines, and imprisonment if they refuse to be isolated by the state authorities or if the quarantine order established by the Kansas Senate is broken.”