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Bill Raising HIV Quarantine Concerns Advancing

Lawmakers could soon take a final vote on a controversial bill updating the state's laws for testing people who may have been exposed to some contagious diseases.

The bill also deletes a provision in state law saying people with HIV cannot be quarantined. That has led to claims that the bill allows quarantining people with HIV.

The House briefly debated the legislation Thursday during a procedural vote. Representative Jim Ward, a Wichita Democrat, wants lawmakers to keep working on the bill and add the HIV exception.

“It doesn’t affect the goal of the bill, it doesn’t hurt the ability of KDHE to protect the public, and it gives peace of mind to people with HIV. Why wouldn’t we do that?” Ward said.

But supporters of the measure, and officials with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, say people with HIV could not be quarantined under the bill. State Epidemiologist Charlie Hunt says HIV does not meet the requirements to qualify for quarantine.

The House and Senate could take a final vote on the bill by the end of the week.