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Archive for Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Protection from quarantine for HIV, AIDS patients is discriminatory, state senator says

April 3, 2013

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— A bill that a leading gay rights advocate says will lead to the harassment of people with AIDS appears headed toward approval.

House Bill 2183 would repeal a 25-year-old law that prohibits state and local health officials from quarantining people with AIDS or HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

Republicans, who are in the majority of a House-Senate conference committee working on the bill, said they are OK with the repeal and didn't think it would lead to people with AIDS or HIV being quarantined.

State Sen. Mary Pilcher-Cook, the chair of the Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee, said she believes that excluding patients with AIDS or HIV from the quarantine provision was discriminatory.

"I don't think we want our laws to be discriminatory," said Pilcher-Cook, R-Shawnee. "The whole point of the law is to treat everybody equal."

HB 2183 started out as legislation sought by emergency personnel aimed at clarifying procedures on testing a patient for communicable diseases when a health care worker has been exposed to that patient's blood or bodily fluids. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment then sought a change in the bill that would get rid of the exemption for HIV/AIDS from quarantine.

KDHE officials have said there would be no medical reason to quarantine someone with AIDS or HIV, but that it is an infectious disease. They have agreed to include the phrase "medically necessary and reasonable" when dealing with the quarantine issue.

State Rep. Jim Ward, D-Wichita, proposed putting the current exemption from quarantine for HIV/AIDS back into the bill. But Pilcher-Cook said she couldn't agree to that.

"This really hits to the heart of our Constitution ... or the Declaration of Independence that 'All men are created equal,' " she said— and excluding HIV and AIDS from quarantine would be discriminatory.

But Ward argued there are many areas of law that provide protections for people in specific classes and situations.

Tom Witt, director of the Kansas Equality Coalition, which advocates for gay and lesbian rights, said there is no reason to strike the current prohibition on quarantine for HIV and AIDS. "It's for administrative convenience only," Witt said.

Witt said he feared that without the specific prohibition on quarantine for HIV and AIDS, people with the infection will be harassed.

"We've been getting a lot information from other states, which don't have an exclusion, about how local health officials do harass people with HIV," he said. "The reason there hasn't been any harassment in Kansas is because it has been against the law. Now, they're going to make it legal on its face to threaten people with HIV quarantine."

While Pilcher-Cook said a "special carve-out in the law for HIV" was discriminatory, she added that she didn't believe anyone with HIV or AIDS would be subject to a quarantine without the exclusion.

"There's a whole series of steps KDHE would have to take to prove that it was medically necessary and reasonable and the onus would be on them (KDHE) in the court system to prove it," she said.

HIV is spread most often through sexual contact, contaminated needles of syringes, infected blood, or from infected women to their babies at birth or through breastfeeding.

Comments

mdlund0 1 year, 6 months ago

My, what an interesting state I've moved to... one where the people are encouraged to own guns to "protect themselves from government" just before the government is given free license to harass the people. LET THE SHOW BEGIN!

11

question4u 1 year, 6 months ago

"'All men are created equal,' [Pilcher-Cook] said— and excluding HIV and AIDS from quarantine would be discriminatory."

Wow! That's hilarious! Did this buffoon really quote a passage that glaringly omitted women from a declaration of equality and implicitly excluded anyone who wasn't white in order to argue against discriminatory practices?

You can't make this stuff up. But then again, you don't have to. Just let Kansas legislators talk for an hour or two and and you'll collect enough of the bizarre and comedic to fill a library shelf with humorous volumes. Of course, these are the people deciding the future of Kansas, so the same material can fill a library shelf with tragedies.

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Dan Eyler 1 year, 6 months ago

Seems reasonable to me that there should be no exclusions to a quarantine law.

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ridikkulus 1 year, 6 months ago

We haven't had a case of Polio in North America in DECADES. Ridiculous.

5

speedy47 1 year, 6 months ago

Is stupid communicable? QUICKLY! Lock up Topeka!

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Ken Lassman 1 year, 6 months ago

Hmm...well, when I go out of state later on this month I won't be surprised if some cop pulls me over and, seeing I'm from Kansas, will quarantine me to see whether I've been infected with wacko ideas like we're seeing coming out of Topeka these days.

Clearly if men (and women) are created equal, it's past time to get up off our duffs and throw these yokels out of office. They are promiscuously spreading extremist idiology (idiocy + ideology) without regard to the health of the rest of Kansans. Some of these legislators need to be quarantined until the next election when they can be replaced with some representatives who have a healthy respect for their constituents.

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verity 1 year, 6 months ago

Idiocy---I am so going to use that, although I think maybe it needs another syllable.

Idiotology maybe?

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verity 1 year, 6 months ago

Stupid is communicable when spread by greased palms, hence it's rapid spread through our legislature.

2

tomatogrower 1 year, 6 months ago

Don't you just love these senators who are underground members of the Westboro Church?

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verity 1 year, 6 months ago

That's really kind of insulting to the Phelps. They're not stupid. Wildly misguided with hateful leaders, but not stupid.

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jafs 1 year, 6 months ago

AIDS is much less contagious than many other diseases.

It makes sense to quarantine folks with very contagious, fatal diseases, but folks with AIDS wouldn't fit in that category.

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happyrearviewmirror 1 year, 6 months ago

I enjoy the refreshing honesty of this article. Kansas people are all about harassment and . treating others differently--especially when it boosts their own egos- for instance terrorizing complete strangers on the public streets in the supposed name of "helping." I won the pain lottery, and the public stoning at KU--- though officially redacted from the record to protect the local red-handed guilty power players-- was remarkably inhumane.

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George_Braziller 1 year, 6 months ago

It's frightening that she's the chair of the Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee yet is completely clueless about how HIV is transmitted.


State Sen. Mary Pilcher-Cook, the chair of the Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee, said she believes that excluding patients with AIDS or HIV from the quarantine provision was discriminatory.

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Liberty275 1 year, 6 months ago

Nobody should be immune from quarantine, but nobody should be forced into quarantine without an order from a judge.

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