Kansas GOP to legalize quarantine of HIV patients

The Kansas legislature is about to empower the state to quarantine people with HIV and AIDS. The local Fox affiliate says the legislation is expected to become law in the next few weeks.

Republicans in the Kansas state legislature promise that the quarantine power will never be exercised against people with AIDS, but they then shot down a Democratic-led effort, by Senator Marci Francisco, to exempt people with HIV and AIDS from the quarantine provision.

Funny how they don’t ever plan on using it against people with AIDS, but then refuse to exempt people with AIDS from the quarantine they promise they’ll never use.

And the Republicans wonder why they lose elections. Then again, the GOP is becoming a bit of a leper colony of late, what with women, blacks, gays, Latinos and youth fleeing the party in droves.  So it’s no wonder that quarantines are on the Republican mind.

Here’s the part of the proposed legislation where they repeal a ban on quarantining people with HIV/AIDS that went into place in 1988:

Kansas hiv aids quarantine

AIDS health experts are understandably concerned.

A famous AIDS button from the late 80s, early 90s. My friend Pau Clark had a t-shirt with this design that he used to love wearing in Billings, MT in 1991. Paul got a chuckle out of the fact that people would complement him on his “Mickey Mouse” shirt without having a clue what it actually meant.

A famous AIDS button from the late 80s, early 90s. My friend Paul Clark had a t-shirt with this design that he used to love wearing in Billings, MT in 1991. Paul got a chuckle out of the fact that people would complement him on his “Mickey Mouse” shirt without having a clue what it actually meant.

“We live in a very conservative state and I’m afraid there are still many people, especially in rural Kansas, that have inadequate education and understanding concerning HIV/AIDS,” said Cody Patton, Executive Director of Positive Directions (PDIKS). “My fear would not be the state uses the law as some way to move all people living with HIV/AIDS into an isolated community, but that this law could allow some county employee to use this law to justify their religious beliefs over their professional responsibilities and discriminate against people with HIV/AIDS.”

Keep in mind that AIDS quarantines didn’t even happen in the 1980s, when people were extremely AIDS-phobic.  Still, a NYT story at the time, dated 1985, showed that reactionary views to HIV/AIDS were not unpopular:

The Los Angeles Times Poll found that 51 percent of the respondents supported a quarantine of acquired immune deficiency syndrome patients, 48 percent would approve of identity cards for those who have taken tests indicating the presence of AIDS antibodies and 15 percent supported tattooing those with AIDS.

Another health expert noted that celebrated extremist Lyndon LaRouche tried unsuccessfully to pass an AIDS quarantine in California in 1986.

“By including HIV/AIDS in this updated law permitting public health quarantine, Kansas legislators harken back to the earliest, darkest days of the AIDS epidemic when Lyndon LaRouche led an unsuccessful effort in California in 1986 to quarantine people with AIDS through California’s Proposition 64—a ballot measure that was resoundingly rejected by California voters by a 71% to 29% margin,” said Michael Weinstein, President of AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF).

Former GOP Senator, and ongoing Republican presidential candidate, Mike Huckabee once called for AIDS quarantines, and stood by those comments as recently as 2007, when he was last asked about them.  And remember, kids, Huckabee is considered a “nice” Republican.

And by GOP standards, I suppose he is.


Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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