LONG OVERDUE…. In 1987, the Reagan administration and then-Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.) imposed a travel and immigration ban more than two decades ago on those who are HIV-positive. The result has included separated families, avoided medical tests, and highly-skilled workers taking their expertise elsewhere.

About a month ago, President Obama announced that he’s ending the ban, calling it a decision “rooted in fear rather than fact.” This week, the L.A. Times reported on the timeline and the people who’ll benefit.

A stamp in Heidemarie Kremer’s passport reveals her health status as HIV-positive.

Because of the disease, Kremer — a native of Germany — has been barred from becoming a legal resident of the United States. She and her two children are fighting possible deportation, and their plans for the future are on hold.

But that soon may change.

This month, the federal government cleared the way for HIV-positive foreigners to visit the country and apply for green cards, lifting a bar that has been in place for more than two decades. […]

The new rules, including the elimination of HIV testing for green-card applicants, take effect Jan. 4.

“To finally be in a position where I can tell people that they can come to the United States to visit their family or that they can get a green card and stay here with their partner is just incredible,” said Victoria Neilson, legal director for Immigration Equality, a national organization that advocated for lifting the ban.

It’s about time.

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.