Decker, Shawn 1975-

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Decker, Shawn 1975-


Born 1975; married Gwenn Barringer, October, 2004.


Writer, speaker, AIDS activist.


My Pet Virus: The True Story of a Rebel without a Cure (memoir), Jeremy P. Tarcher/Penguin (New York, NY), 2006.

Author of the blogs My Pet Virus and Shawn's HIV Blog.


Diagnosed with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), acquired from a tainted blood transfusion when he was only eleven years old, Shawn Decker at first kept quiet about his condition. By the time he graduated from high school, however, he wanted to be able to share his experiences with others. In 1996 he launched his blog, My Pet Virus, recounting the difficulties of living with the virus that causes acquired immune deficiency syndrome, or AIDS, but also infusing such stories with humor. He also began counseling in schools and speaking at other public venues. With the help of medication and an understanding wife, Decker continues to live a normal and fulfilling life. In 2006 he published his memoir, My Pet Virus: The True Story of a Rebel without a Cure.

Reviewers responded positively to Decker's story of growing up with a "pet virus." Booklist contributor Gillian Engberg called his memoir "candid" and "raucous," concluding that this "hilarious, outspoken, and vibrant story will instruct and inspire its readers." Similar praise was offered by a Kirkus Reviews critic: "Stoked by the author's boundless, good-natured charm, his story pops with an effervescent sense of humor that never falters." A contributor for Publishers Weekly found the memoir affecting, especially in its use of humor, observing that Decker "focuses more on what he's doing to move ahead in life than on how he's suffering." Similarly, Tim Slack, writing in Entertainment Weekly, commented that My Pet Virus helps readers remember that even in the face of tragedy, "there's no reason to stop laughing." And for Library Journal contributor Heather McCormack, "this often morbidly hilarious story is about living in spite of a deadly disease as well as living comfortably with it."



Decker, Shawn, My Pet Virus: The True Story of a Rebel without a Cure, Jeremy P. Tarcher/Penguin (New York, NY), 2006.


Booklist, October 1, 2006, Gillian Engberg, review of My Pet Virus, p. 12.

Entertainment Weekly, September 22, 2006, Tim Stack, review of My Pet Virus, p. 97.

Kirkus Reviews, August 1, 2006, review of My Pet Virus, p. 765.

Library Journal, September 1, 2006, Heather McCormack, reviews of My Pet Virus, pp. 37, 168.

Publishers Weekly, August 28, 2006, review of My Pet Virus, p. 47.

USA Today, September 14, 2006, Carol Memmott, review of My Pet Virus, p. 7D.


Campuspeak, (March 4, 2007), "A Boy, a Girl, a Virus, and the Relationship That Happened Anyway."

My Pet Virus, the Book, (January 26, 2007)., (September, 2006), Shawn Decker, "Retro Virus."

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Decker, Shawn 1975-

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