Joe Miller's issues regarding working with a gay client who has contracted AIDS are rooted in ignorance and prejudice. When Miller shakes hands with Andrew Beckett and then learns that Beckett indeed has AIDS, he is worried that he has contracted the disease because he shook his hands. This is seen when Miller talks to his doctor, reflecting his fear about shaking hands with Beckett.
Over the early course of the narrative, Joe also demonstrates his homophobia in his discussions with his wife and in the private realm. It becomes clear that Joe does not understand what it means to be gay and does not understand the AIDS disease. Ignorance and prejudice dominate Joe's understanding of Andrew. It is for this reason that he initially withdraws. Yet, Joe's transformation is shown to be "gratifying" because it comes from a position of prejudice in terms of how he views Beckett as both a person who is gay and someone who has AIDS.