My Pet Virus
Iwas destined for a life of medical drama from day one,” begins this comic memoir with a mission. “I was born in the month of July, and my horoscope sign is a disease (Cancer). The symbol for Cancer? A crab (the sexually transmitted critter). Not only that, my parents named me Shawn Timothy Decker, which makes my initials S.T.D.
Shawn Decker isn’t quite the All-American boy. Sure, he gets caught shoplifting copies of Penthouse; is crazy about prowrestling, especially “The Nature Boy” Ric Flair; and never has a problem getting dates. But he’s also a hemophiliac who discovers, at age eleven, that he has contracted HIV from tainted blood products.
Instead of becoming self-pitying and dying (as first predicted), Shawn develops a twisted sense of humor, meets Depeche Mode through the Make-A-Wish Foundation, and writes on blogs and in Poz magazine about what it’s like being hetero and HIV-positive in rural Virginia. He also turns to gay men for advice on dating women and, almost twenty years after getting HIV, marries Gwenn Barringer, who is HIV-negative and a former competitor for the title of Miss Virginia. Together Shawn and Gwenn travel the country, speaking to high school and college kids about how to live and love with HIV (and how to avoid getting it).