The full title of this book is My Pet Virus: The True Story Of A Rebel Without A Cure. I enjoyed this book so much! Who knew a book about contracting HIV could be hilarious?
Decker uses his somewhat twisted sense of humor (my favorite kind) to tell his story. He was born a “thinblood”, which is his word for “person with hemophilia”, and contracted HIV from tainted blood products when he was a child (in the 1980’s, before blood was checked for HIV).
This made him a “positoid”, his word for “person who is HIV positive”. He uses words in a creative and unique way.
He eventually was diagnosed with AIDS, and, “thanks to modern medicine”, Decker is living his life, not so differently than any of the rest of us. In fact, he’s done some things (such as meeting Depeche Mode, writing a regular column for a Poz Magazine, and doing book tours for his wonderful memoir), that most of us readers will never do.
Decker and I are pretty close to the same age, so, I can remember how paranoid people were back in the 1980’s when we were all first hearing about AIDS from the news on TV. People were scared, and uninformed, and often prejudiced against and mean to people with HIV/AIDS.
Imagine being a child with HIV in a world so very terrified of it! Imagine starting to date under those circumstances. In spite of this, Decker had a fairly normal life (if anyone’s life can really be described as “normal” that is) with a brother who picked on him, friends he did stupid things with, and even girls he dated.
Included in the book are photos of Decker from the time period that each chapter focuses on. In the first one, he’s a toddler, and he and his brother are dressed alike. Very cute! Other photos include friends, famous people he met, and his wife Gwenn (who remains HIV negative).
Shawn and Gwenn do public speaking, educating about HIV, AIDS, and how to stay negative. They show people that you can live with HIV and AIDS, without making it seem like a picnic. The two of them are very honest, which takes bravery in a world where ignorance abounds.
This a quirky memoir about a serious subject, that manages to remain lighthearted and positive, without glossing over the difficult stuff. It’s a quick and extremely entertaining read.