March 2, 2012
This is a true story of a man I know personally. This story began in 2009 - it isn't ancient history.
"John" is a middle aged gay man living in Los Angeles, CA. He handled the "difficult" clients at his workplace with ease and enviable composure when most people would have been clawing up the walls to escape. I frequently talked with John at his office. He was always happy, always had nice things to say.
His job involved managing a number of projects for clients and making sure that nothing got forgotten or left out. His clients loved him because he always made them feel that they were his most important client. He was, and is, in a stable, loving and monogamous relationship with his husband. Everything was great.
One day a client complained that John was missing targets and forgetting what was supposed to be done for them. While his boss didn't really understand why, he took away a few projects to give him a lighter load because he was such a good employee. Even so, John couldn't keep up. The slip-up's became more frequent, more disruptive to the client.
After several of months of trying to fix the problem within the company and with John, his boss called John's husband with his concerns. John was taken to the hospital where tests determined that he had a degenerative brain disorder. The doctors could stop the degeneration, but they couldn't reverse the damage caused. John was left with severe memory and mental function impairment - a very typical symptom of AIDS.
His condition was (and still is) so advanced that he could no longer function in the workplace. It was a very sad day when John had to leave his job. His husband has committed to take care of John for the rest of their lives together - the only happy spot in this story. John is a dependent- he can't take care of himself. John is only fifty-five.
The saddest part of this story? John could have prevented this. He knew he had HIV, but he decided to wait for a symptom to appear before getting treatment. By the time the symptom came, it was too late.
Do not let John's story become yours.