Topeka-Capitol Journal (03.20.13)
The Kansas Senate approved a bill to update public health statutes related to quarantine of individuals with infectious diseases. Sen. Marci Francisco (D-Lawrence) expressed concern that the previous law explicitly excluded HIV and AIDS as grounds for quarantine, because those diseases are not spread by casual contact, but the new House Bill 2183 did not contain the exclusion. The senate rejected Francisco’s amendment to restore the exclusion.
At the committee hearing for the bill, the head of the Kansas Equality Coalition, which lobbies for gay rights, also stated that his group was worried about eliminating the explicit exclusion of AIDS patients from the quarantine law. However, members of both parties commented that eliminating the AIDS exclusion reflects the modern understanding that there is no fear of the disease spreading like some other infectious diseases.
According to Sen. David Haley (D-Kansas City), the Kansas Department of Health and Environment had made it clear that there was no reason to quarantine an AIDS patient. Haley said that if the bill were capable of discriminating against anyone, he would not support it. Sen. Mary Pilcher-Cook (R-Shawnee) felt that Francisco’s amendment would make the bill discriminatory, as it would separate people with a specific disease from others. However, Sen. Laura Kelly (D-Topeka) argued that the amendment would clarify the law’s intent. Kelly commented that, unless it were specified in administrative rules and regulations, the bill would permit isolation and quarantine of individuals with HIV and AIDS despite the fact the Department of Health has maintained that HIV/AIDS patients do not need to be quarantined.