In 1987, at the height of the AIDS epidemic, the Department of Health and Human Services added HIV to the list of communicable diseases that barred tourists and travelers from entry into the U.S. In 1993, Congress went further to list HIV-positivity as the only medical condition listed as grounds for inadmissibility for immigration into the country, and therefore no major AIDS conference has taken place here ever since.

On Monday, President Obama will order the reversal of this pointless travel ban and extend the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program in order to allow foreign students, medical tourists and others to enter the country and have access to medical treatment here. Obama says this is "a step that will save lives," and given that, at least for Americans, HIV is now more of a chronic condition than a death sentence, the hope is that the freedom to travel here will encourage those from other countries to get tested and seek treatment that they may not be able to get at home.