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New AIDS diagnosis
Jan 8, 2004

Here's a situation... I have been recently diagnosed w/AIDS from HIV+. I have a CD4 count of 94 and VL over 419K. I have been out on short term disability w/bronchitis (upper respiratory infection) for 3wks now. I initially had no problems with the insurance company. As I have been discussing with my Dr, Nurse Practitioner, Social Worker & Therapist -- I'm electing to not return to work. Here are some things you'll need to know: I'm currently NOT on any HAART --- every combination I've tried had side effects I felt SEVERE and ended to avoid potential resistance(s). I've tried Combivir 150MG/300MG one tablet 2x day with Sustiva 200MB three capsules daily; and Kaletra softgel ABB 3 capsules 2x daily w/Epivir 150MG 1 tablet 2x daily & Zerit 40MG 1 capsule 2x daily. I work in Consumer Finance and voluntarily stepped down as a Branch Manager to reduce stress to become an Underwriter -- took over a 50 cut in pay. This has resulted in multiple issues -- primarily stress related from "keeping my secret a secret" and outright RAGE that this disease has taken my identity (getting control of the power back slowly). I'm now on Bactrim 2x daily and Wellbutrin XL 300MG 2x daily. I still have stress related diahrrea extreme fatigue depression and insomnia! I was scheduled to return to work almost 2wks ago; but my healthcare providers agree I am in no shape to return to that still high stress environment (no support network except healthcare providers). I've been getting the "run-around" from by insurance company lately and don't seem to be getting anyware. I'm concerned I'll be accused of 'job abandoment' and terminated, losing my healthcare benefits (pretty good ones!) With the recent problems, my GI problem is getting worse and have developed near migraine(s)a couple days a week and insomnia is getting worse! I'm feeling like I'm about to CRACK and really need the income from STD! Do you have any suggestions that may move this process along? I feel this has only come up because the STD company was requesting a monthly update and is now telling me there really isn't a "medical" reason for not working but a possible "mental" avenue I can 'explore'??? I'm desperate and feel I am utilizing my resources to no avial! Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Response from Ms. Breuer

I'm so sorry that you're struggling with all of this at once. I can't solve it, but I do have some suggestions:

1. Health comes first, job comes second. Agree? If so, move to item 2.

2. To reduce your stress and preserve health and options, could you request a confidential meeting with the director of HR to ask her/his advice about how to proceed? I would encourage you to be honest about your desire to stop working and ask the HR director's advice about the best way to navigate this challenge. Why allow your employer to be an adversary when you could be wise enough to make your employer an ally? (ask: What would you do if you were in my situation?) There may be provisions in your disability leave policy that could reduce the heat on you and give you some breathing room. And a wise employer seeks chances to work with employees in a way that prevents wrongful termination lawsuits. Insurance companies generally follow the employers' wishes in how they deal with employees. Turn your HR person into your advocate with the insurance company. That's one reason s/he is there.

3. While you're seeking that appointment, contact Jacques Chambers at Jacques has helped hundreds of people deal with employers and benefits in his career with AIDS Project Los Angeles and now as an independent. You are doing a good job using your resources, but you've had a lot thrown at you at once. Let a few more of us help!

I wish you well, encourage you to focus on allies and turning potential adversaries into allies, and encourage you to write again.

Best regards, Nancy

Club Bouncer's Worry
hiv in workplace

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