Georgia State Rep. Betty Price, wife of former health and human services secretary Tom Price, has said that she was being intentionally “provocative” while making her much-criticized comments on whether HIV patients could legally be quarantined.
Well, her strategy seems to have worked like gangbusters — among those provoked was singer Elton John, who released a statement Monday castigating the Republican lawmaker. “Rep. Betty Price’s comments about people living with HIV are horrific, discriminatory, and astonishingly ill-informed,” the “Rocket Man” singer said. “As a doctor and elected official from a state where people are still contracting HIV at an alarming rate, Mrs. Price should know better than to demonize people and perpetuate myths that stigmatize people living with HIV.”
John is the founder of the Elton John AIDS Foundation and an advocate for HIV research and treatment.
Price’s comments came at a committee meeting in which she posed a question to an official from the Georgia Department of Public Health on ways to deal with her state’s status as second in the nation in new HIV cases.
“What are we legally able to do? I don’t want to say the quarantine word, but I guess I just said it,” Price asked. She later said her comments were misunderstood.
But John said they echoed sentiments expressed in the earlier years of the HIV and AIDs epidemic, when figures such as then-Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.) called for quarantining people who tested positive.
“Her words smack of a dark time when there was little or no information about HIV and people were afraid of each other,” the singer said. “Today, thanks to scientific advancements, growing acceptance and love, people living with HIV are living longer, healthier lives. We also know people living with HIV pose no public threat.”