Joe M., one of POZ Magazine’s Unsung Heroes of 2013, knows how precious time spent with family can be. In 1995, at age 32, Joe got sick. He went from 155 lbs to 120 lbs, his CD4 cell count dropped to nine, his lungs were infected with pneumonia, and he was given one year to live. By chance, he was selected to test a new protease inhibitor.
“I still think about it today. There were so many people that were not chosen, but I was. Since then, something greater than me has given me a sense of duty to honor the people that weren’t chosen.”
That year, he started volunteering at AIDS Services of Austin (ASA), went on to work with the Williamson County Health Department, and is currently ASA’s CRCS (PATH) Coordinator.
Throughout his struggles with his health, his family has been by his side, taking care of him. His father and mother never felt ashamed of Joe’s sexuality or HIV diagnosis. While he was at his sickest and living with his parents, the best part of his day was when his dad came home.
A little over three years ago, Joe had the chance to repay their kindness and love as he took care of his ailing father.
“I always had his support, so I miss him now.”