Elton John responded Monday to Georgia state Rep. Betty Price’s disturbing suggestion that perhaps people with HIV should be quarantined in order to “curtail the spread” of the disease.
“What are we legally able to do [about HIV]?” she asked at the time. “I don’t want to say the quarantine word ― but I guess I just said it. Is there an ability, since I would guess that public dollars are expended heavily in prophylaxis and treatment of this condition, so we have a public interest in curtailing the spread? What would you advise? Are there any methods, legally, that we could do that would curtail the spread?”
On Monday, John condemned Price’s suggestions, pointing out that her comments evidence how far Americans still have to go when it comes to education about the realities of living with HIV. In 2015, Georgia was ranked fifth out of all 50 states for new HIV diagnoses.
“Rep. Betty Price’s comments about people living with HIV are horrific, discriminatory, and astonishingly ill-informed,” John said in a statement to HuffPost. “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.”
“Her words smack of a dark time when there was little or no information about HIV and people were afraid of each other,” John continued. “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.”
John highlighted how the Elton John AIDS Foundation is working “aggressively” both within Georgia and across the South to break down structural and cultural barriers surrounding issues like education and access to treatment for people living with HIV.
“Instead of perpetuating fear and bias, Mrs. Price should educate herself about HIV and use her position of power to provide support, resources and compassion to her constituents. Love is the cure. Not quarantines,” John said.
Head to the Elton John AIDS Foundation for more information.