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My Pet Virus: The True Story of a Rebel…

My Pet Virus: The True Story of a Rebel Without a Cure

by Shawn Decker

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4.5 stars ( )
  BooksOn23rd | Nov 25, 2015 |
4.5 stars ( )
  BooksOn23rd | Nov 25, 2015 |
Clear-eyed and wryly hilarious. Decker is an HIV hemophiliac, or as he prefers, a positoid thinblood. This memoir is charming and accessible, decorated with almost enough photos. The tone is just exactly right, and Decker never misses a laugh or an opportunity to educate. A delight. ( )
  satyridae | Apr 5, 2013 |
Maybe I'm just turning into a horrible old woman, but I want to shake my fist at Mr. Decker and shriek, "Take care of yourself! People love you--stop your binge drinking before you kick up your hepatitis B and C!" Because, you see, Decker is a hemophiliac ("thinblood" in his parlance) who acquired HIV, HBV, and HCV through clotting factor. On the one hand, I have no problem with the idea that the goal isn't to live as long as possible; on the other, I find myself angry when people deliberately harm themselves in life-threatening ways, whether they have HIV or not. Thus, I am not entertained when Decker recounts instances where he puts himself at grossly unnecessary risk. Instead of feeling affection for him, I want to keep myself distant from him. Maybe if I knew him I'd have a better sense of what he's actually like, and what it's like to interact with him. The lack of interaction contributes to my dislike of this persona.

It doesn't help that I don't share his sense of humor, so this humorous autobiography doesn't seem funny to me. I tell myself that the guy is in his early 30s and supports himself with edu-schtick about HIV. I tell myself that he has the right to influence his destiny to the extent that he can. I tell myself that there is other humor out here related to HIV and hepatitis that I do find funny. It's possible that I've just had too many friends and family members die of HIV and HCV to enjoy Decker's self-congratulatory descriptions of his youthful danger-seeking.

The narrative jumps around a bit and is somewhat confusing to follow as well as repetitive. This is an editor's job, not the author's, but doesn't help with my lack of empathy.

So see for yourself whether I'm just a horrible buzz-killing shrew and Decker is da bomb; his website is www.mypetvirus.com and his blog is http://blogs.poz.com/shawn/. Let me know. ( )
  OshoOsho | Mar 30, 2013 |
Hemophilia, HIV+ at a young age, a death sentence, stigma, illness, a broken relationship... An unfunny situation told with such humour and grace you can't help but laugh. Shawn Decker's take on his life and illness is refreshing, compelling, and at no point does he play the pity card. Fascinating and fun - highly recommend. ( )
  IndygoGirl | Jan 3, 2011 |
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"I don't want to start any
blasphemous rumors
but I think that God's
got a sick sense of humour
and when I die
I expect to find him laughing."

- Depeche Mode
To all my guardian angels, both living and dead.
First words
You probably don't know this, but most hemophiliacs hate to be referred to as hemophiliacs.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
From the back cover: I was 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).
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A comic memoir by a hemophiliac who contracted HIV from tainted blood at the age of eleven discusses his decision to both live and retain a sense of humor, introduction to Depeche Mode through the Make-A-Wish Foundation, marriage to an HIV-negative beauty pageant contestant, and work as an awareness advocate.… (more)

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