Maryland Comptroller Schaefer Clarifies Proposal for Public HIV Registry, Calls for Registry of ‘Known Givers of AIDS’
Maryland Comptroller William Schaefer (D) on Friday clarified his proposal for a public registry of HIV-positive people in the state, calling for a registry of "those who are known givers of AIDS," the Baltimore Sun reports (Green, Baltimore Sun, 10/23). As Maryland governor in the 1990s, Schaefer pushed a proposal that would have established a public HIV registry, but the measure was defeated three times by the state Legislature. Although Maryland tracks AIDS cases using names, the list is not published or publicly accessible. Earlier this month, when Schaefer was asked to explain a request for the HIV registry at a Board of Public Works meeting, said, "As far as I'm concerned, people who have AIDS are a danger. They're a danger to spread AIDS. People should be able to know who has AIDS. It costs an awful lot of money to treat them." Schaefer added that HIV-positive people only contract the virus through risky behavior. "They bring it on themselves," he said, adding, "They don't get it by sitting on the toilet seat. ... A person who gives AIDS, who spreads AIDS, they're bad people." Following Schaefer's comments, Maryland state Del. John Hurson (D) called for Schaefer's resignation (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 10/15). On Friday, speaking on the "Chip Franklin Show" on Baltimore's WBAL radio, Schaefer said, "To me, a woman on the street, a prostitute that intentionally gives a person AIDS, she should be on the registry." He added, "A man who intentionally gives a woman AIDS, that person should be on the registry." Schaefer spokesperson Michael Golden said that the comptroller wants to compile a list of people convicted of knowingly transmitting HIV. Although that information already is public record, the information is not "published in the way the state's sex offender registry is," Golden said, according to the Sun. However, Schaefer on the radio program acknowledged that he does not expect that his proposal will be successful.
Following the comptroller's radio appearance, a "small group of protesters" outside the Maryland statehouse in Annapolis compared Schaefer's call for an HIV/AIDS registry to laws in Nazi Germany that required Jewish people, gays and others to wear identifying clothing or symbols, the Sun reports. The group said that Schaefer's modified position was "no improvement," according to the Sun. "How are you going to define who is trying to intentionally spread it?" James Packard-Gomez, a protest organizer from Laytonsville, Md., asked. The protesters called for a boycott on Maryland tourism and on the purchase of Maryland goods until Schaefer resigns. "The people of Maryland should not let this harmful man represent the state," Craig Shireman, another protester from Laytonsville, said. Schaefer said he met with AIDS advocates on Thursday and clarified his views. He said that the meeting was "one of the finest" he ever had, but he added that the advocates did not agree with his position on the registry issue, according to the Sun (Baltimore Sun, 10/23).