7/18/08 at 8:00 PM
Until recently, the United States was one of just a dozen nations that still barred HIV-positive foreigners from entering the country. The U.S. rule—passed in 1993 when the virus carried a heavy stigma—meant that to get into the States, HIV-positive tourists had to lie about their health and hope Customs didn't find AIDS drugs in their luggage. And such measures didn't help those seeking work permits or citizenship (a positive result on a mandatory HIV test usually nixed hopes of a visa).The ban became increasingly awkward as the U.S. positioned itself as a world leader on HIV aid. Now, a $50 billion AIDS package passed in the Senate last week will rectify matters. Once enacted, the plan will ensure that HIV-positive travelers are treated in the same manner as tourists with other communicable diseases: the CDC, not Congress, will decide whether HIV is a current public health threat, and monitor travel accordingly. One hypocrisy down—will the next one please step up?