Friends in need, real friends and fair weathered friends
A friend in need, is a friend indeed' is a popular saying, implying that people become friends when they need something from you. Whilst this can indeed be true, the reverse is also significant. When you are in need, then you find out who are your real friends.
An acquaintance found out recently that she has a chronic medical condition. Nothing visible and nothing to stop her living a normal life, but something that will occasionally flare up and cause discomfort. She also found out something of the difference between real and fairweather friends.
She informed them simply because she is an open and honest person. There was no seeking of particular help. Perhaps a little sympathy, but no special treatment or additional attention.
When she told some friends, they responded with concern. They listened without asking anything in return. They asked how they could help. These were real friends.
Others, who she also believed to be friends of the same sort, responded first with selfish concerns. They asked if it was infectious in any way or that might somehow catch it. Then they melted away, despite reassurance of their safety.
Fairweather friends are those who are most likely to appear when they are in need or, at best, when you are not in need. Real friends don't care about your need. They will help where they can and know that it's ok if they can only offer a little sympathy.
This must be something like what it is to have cancer, HIV or AIDS. Those who were friends when all was well suddenly show their true colors, whilst some from the core and some from the periphery fly the true flag of friendship, offering and giving what help they can.