A Month of Superheroes: Ryan White
August 18, 2015
Today marks the 25th anniversary of the Ryan White CARE Act. This federal program has provided so many services to the HIV/AIDS community. Much thanks goes to Ryan White, who passed to spirit in 1990, and his mother Jeanne for their role in changing the way people viewed HIV.
Ryan White’s legacy lives on to this day. I still remember the days when I was a scared kid with HIV, intensely secretive about my status. Ryan’s journey was quite public from the beginning of his diagnosis, and my mother had every magazine that interviewed him and would watch his TV appearances, where he did his best to disarm fears of HIV transmission.
Here are some videos I’ve made about Ryan. And a POZ article I wrote a five years ago about the CARE Act.
Ryan White’s bedroom is on display at the Children’s Museum in Indianapolis. Here’s a brief tour, a video by me followed by a video by Andrea, curator of the Museum:
I animated this video for AIDS Healthcare Foundation, which explains The Ryan White CARE Act and a little bit of Ryan’s history:
The New Meaning of “HIV Free”
June 17, 2014
Remember when “HIV free” simply meant living without the virus in your body? Well, terrible laws and even worse implementation have created a new definition for this term. Now, “HIV Free” means the release of someone who was erroneously sentenced under HIV disclosure laws.
Not familiar with these laws? The Sero Project can get you up to speed better than I can. But basically, in many states, if you are HIV positive, you can be held criminally accountable for having sex with someone if you don’t disclose your HIV status… even if you wear a condom.
The new HIV Free experienced a victory last week when the Iowa State Supreme Court overturned the conviction of Nick Rhoades. Poz did a feature of Rhoade’s plight in 2012. I’m happy for Nick, and the hope is that this ruling will pave the way for other states to dial back their horrible HIV laws. They don’t work in preventing HIV- quite the opposite, I think these laws scare people away from getting tested for HIV.
Mark King attended this month’s HIV Is Not A Crime Conference and wrote this powerful blog entry about it. Watch his video below. We need to do everything we can to make people with HIV… HIV Free.
Help Honor Ryan White’s Legacy- Takes One Minute
April 8, 2014
If you’d like to help others living with HIV and preserve Ryan’s legacy, the Ryan White CARE Act, then please consider signing this petition to continue funding the CARE Act. Here’s a video I did with help from AIDS Healthcare Foundation to explain just how important the CARE Act is.
Labtest Contest X: Win Body Counts By Sean Strub
February 21, 2014
The Labtest Contest is back! And the grand prize has never been better- guess closest to my t-cell count and win a signed copy of Sean Strub’s incredible new book, Body Counts! The rules are posted below… be sure to follow them and good luck!
Shawn’s Guess: 422
Shawn’s Doctor’s Guess: 670
March-July 2010: Charles Oliff (guess: 567 actual count: 565)
July-December 2010: Aimee Lee (guess: 516 actual: 511)
December 2010- March 2011: “Satan” (guess: 666 actual: 662)
March-July 2011: Sharon Paul (guess:
520 actual: 508)
August-January 2012: Justin Starkenburg (guess: 570 actual count: 579)
February- June: Bob Geise (guess: 595 actual count: 590)
July-September: Sahara Frog (guess: 515 actual count: 512)
September-January 2014: Scott Anderson (guess: 620 actual count: 620)
February-October: Mary (guess: actual count:585 actual count: 583)
NOVEMBER RESULTS: 538 (No Contest)
1. You have to post your guess (between 400 and 700 t-cells) on my Poz blog Comments section
2. Relatives are allowed to guess! Bribes accepted!
3. Closest guess wins- if it’s a tie, the closest guess that DID NOT go over the actual count wins.
4. One vote/guess per person. Must have a valid email address.
5. Deadline is Friday, February 28, 2014 12:01 am EST
Body Counts by Sean Strub
January 14, 2014
Sean Strub’s memoir, Body Counts, hit stores yesterday, and Gwenn and I were fortunate enough to get to our local bookstore just in time to nab the last three copies: one for us, one for my mom (who is a huge fan) and one for a future Labtest Contest prize.
But, don’t wait around for me to get labwork done in March for a chance to win this book, if you have any interest in the history of the gay community, the politics of sex and the realities of living with HIV- you’ve gotta get this book. Click on Sean’s face to read an excerpt of Body Counts in the latest issue of Poz.
Sean has been one of the most influential people in my life as a positoid. Without him, I really have no idea what I’d be doing right now. In 1996, after nearly a decade of living with HIV, I decided to speak out about being positive for the first time; I was 20, still living with my parents in Waynesboro, Virginia, and had just put up a website chronicling my thoughts on living with HIV. My doctor fed me a few issues of Poz Magazine and I was stunned that a magazine solely about HIV existed. I poured through its pages and loved what I read. I sent a fan letter to the editor-in-chief, Sean, and shared where I was at in my own journey with HIV.
A month or so later, I was watching wrestling and the phone rang. “Shawn, telephone!” My dad/secretary called out through my bedroom door. My beloved Ric Flair had just lost his World Title; I was bummed but took the call anyway. It was Sean. He invited me to NYC to be interviewed for the magazine and shortly thereafter I started writing my Positoid column.
When I learned that my original godparents had broken ties with my family in the 1980s after my diagnosis because their church said AIDS was God’s punishment against gay people, I asked Sean and Steve Schalchlin (another beloved mentor) to be my surrogate Godparents. They both readily accepted.
All of that personal history and admiration aside, it was hard to tear myself from Body Counts to post this blog- it really is an incredible book and an honest, forthcoming account from someone who has a truly unique set of experiences to draw from.
The War on Blowjobs & Ken “The Cooch” Cuccinelli
November 4, 2013
This Tuesday (tomorrow) my home state of Virginia is hosting an intriguing race for Governor, pitting the sitting Attorney General, Ken “The Cooch” Cuccinelli against Terry McAuliffe.
I’m voting for McAuliffe. To be honest, The Cooch scares the hell out of me. He is in favor of keeping “crimes against nature” laws on the books, making sexual acts such as blowjobs and buttfucking illegal. In addition to those pressing issues- which he claims are ways to further punish sex offenders- he also believes that any woman who is raped should be required by law to give birth.
One of Ken’s first acts after being elected as Attorney General was to send out a letter to every college and university in the state of Virginia, informing them to simply ignore any pressure to not fire someone based on their sexual orientation.
In the letter he wrote:
“It is my advice that the law and public policy of the Commonwealth of
Virginia prohibit a college or university from including ‘sexual
orientation,’ ‘gender identity,’ ‘gender expression,’ or like
classification as a protected class within its non-discrimination policy
absent specific authorization from the General Assembly.”
Ken Cuccinelli comes across as the kind of guy who is one Science Fair mishap or bizarre lightening storm away from being transformed into Spider-Man’s next arch nemesis. The more power he gets, the rougher things are going to be. He’s had a good run, but it’s time to band together and stop him. If you live in Virginia, or have friends who do, please make them aware of how important this election is.
Support the Ryan White Care Act
August 26, 2013
Last month I did a video for AIDS Healthcare Foundation about PEPFAR. This month I was once again excited by the topic they presented- the need for continued funding of the Ryan White CARE Act.
Learn more about it by watching the video above. For your convenience, I’ve posted the transcript of the video below.
Hope this finds you well!
In 1984, 13-year-old Ryan White changed the face of AIDS by speaking out
against intolerance. Following his death in 1990, the Ryan White CARE
(Comprehensive AIDS Resources Emergency) Act received vast bipartisan
support and today is the backbone of our fight against HIV/AIDS in the
United States, providing lifesaving treatment and prevention services to
nearly half of all people living with HIV nationwide.
In September 2013, the CARE Act is set to expire. In the four years since
its last reauthorization, we have learned that the key to reversing the
HIV epidemic begins with getting tested for HIV, followed by linkage and
retention of care. This ultimately renders patients noninfectious,
allowing for a longer, happier life. Sounds good, right?
Sadly, gaps in this continuum leave a majority of HIV-positive Americans out of
care: 20% don’t know their status, and of those who do only 40% see a
doctor regularly, leaving less than 30% of HIV-positive people in
America with an undetectable viral load. In July 2013, President Barack
Obama issued an Executive Order for federal agencies to scale up their
Reauthorizing the Ryan White CARE Act is critical to
achieving this goal. Providers like Medicaid and private insurance do
not cover many needed services and do not have the HIV expertise of the
CARE Act to provide everyone with the same level of care.
Keep Ryan’s legacy alive — show Congress that America supports the reauthorization of the Ryan White CARE Act.
VLOG: Is Oral Sex… Sex? Is It Safe Sex?
November 8, 2012
Gwenn enjoying a pre-election drink.
Tuesday night was a good night. As someone with two very expensive medical conditions in hemophilia and HIV, I can rest a whole lot easier knowing that President Obama will remain in the White House for another four years.
Today’s vlog is all about oral sex- here’s my and Gwenn’s opinion on the matter!