KDHE: Proposed Bill Would Not Quarantine HIV Patients

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Kansas Department of Health and Environment officials again disputing reports that a proposed bill would allow for quarantine of people who are HIV positive or who've been exposed to HIV.

The speculation stemmed from Substitute House Bill 2183. As explained in legislative testimony, the bill would give KDHE more specific authority to adopt regulations regarding how to handle exposure to infectious diseases among emergency services workers and other first responders, law enforcement and corrections officers, and health care workers.

"One of the most important outcomes of this change is that KDHE would be authorized to specify requirements for testing source patients who might have exposed a first responder or health care provider to a broader array of communicable diseases – for example, as a result of a needle stick or other documented incident that could have resulted in disease transmission – and vice versa," Charles Hunt, State Epidemiologist, wrote in his testimony to legislative committees.

In recent days, however, reports have circulated that the measure would allow for isolation or quarantine of people who have HIV or AIDS. Hunt issued an open letter on the reports March 21st and issued another statement Friday.

“Much of the recent media coverage has been based on the false premise that, if enacted, the bill would allow for isolation of persons infected with or quarantine of persons exposed to HIV,” Hunt wrote. “It is not and never was the state’s intent to seek the authority for isolation or quarantine of persons related to HIV.”

Further, Hunt says the bill would not allow for such actions.

“The law requires isolation and quarantine be based on what is reasonable and medically necessary, and neither of those thresholds are met with respect to HIV,” Hunt said.

KDHE says the bill was introduced to address gaps in current law regarding exposures to HIV and other infectious diseases. They say the substitute bill was simply a more streamlined approach to accomplish the objectives by putting the authority in the form of administrative regulations.

The bill is currently in a conference committee.