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.

Positively Yours,

Help Honor Ryan White’s Legacy- Takes One Minute

April 8, 2014

Today marks 24 years since Ryan White’s passing at the age of 18.  Born with hemophilia, Ryan became the adolescent face of the epidemic when he was kicked out of school for having HIV in the mid 1980s. You can learn more about Ryan by reading this Poz article, “Remembering Ryan White.”


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.

Positively Yours,

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!

But before we get to the rules, I need to inform you of a slight change. For the first time ever, I will be competing in the contest. The prize is just that good. Sure, I already have my own copy of Body Counts, which I adore, but it isn’t signed.  Think of it as an extra challenge, or an AIDS-y version of Win Ben Stein’s Money…

labteststrubtest.jpgThe competition will undoubtedly be stiff. And I’m not guaranteed a win by any means. In fact, my own doctor, Greg, is venturing a guess for the first time, too.  To make sure my guess and my doctor’s are seen, I’m going to dramatically increase the font size.


Shawn’s Guess: 422
Shawn’s Doctor’s Guess: 670

Previous Champions…
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)
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)

Official Rules

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

POZ-sean.jpgSean 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.

body-counts-sean-strub.jpgWhen 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.

Positively Yours,

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.

ken_cuccinelli_370x278.jpgI’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.

Positively Yours,

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!

Positively Yours,


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!

Positively Yours,


Obama Kills Osama, and Other Insights

May 2, 2011

This is the image that is flying around Facebook today on the heels of the big news that, over the weekend, Osama bin Laden was killed.

Not sure who mocked this up, and I’m too lazy to search and give proper credit.  But I liked it.  It’s rare that a Democrat can look like a badass.

Assassinating terrorists is pretty funny, especially the opportunity to revel in the gloat factor. On Twitter, I posted: “Osama bin Laden died of a broken heart- he’d been pining away for Kate Middleton for years.”  Today I woke up and realized it was The Rock’s birthday and, being a Rock fan, my imagination ran wilder than a Hulkamaniac on speed: “There’s a rumor that @ granted The Rock’s b-day wish & let him hit Osama w/ The People’s Elbow before Seals finished the job.”

For non-wrestling fans, here is the Rock entertaining his millions of fans with his patented “People’s Elbow”, landing it on the immortal Hulk Hogan at Wrestlemania.

It’s a crowd-pleasing move. Not unlike killing Osama bin Laden.  The guy was an evil, smirking prick who justified the killing of innocent people with the killing of innocent people which lead to the killing of innocent people.  But in our own victory dance we can’t lose sight of Osama’s intended goals in all of this- to bankrupt and defeat the United States.  He may not have defeated an entire country, but September 11, 2001 set of a series of events that changed the world.  It ignited a bloodlust that led to two wars, the latter of which (Iraq) having the flimsiest of correlation to the domestic terrorist attack that none of us will soon forget.

Humor me by reading another pro wrestling analogy.  There was a wrestler named “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan who carried the American flag to the ring and chanted, “USA! USA! USA!”  I wasn’t a big fan, not because of his patriotism but because he was a “good” guy and lost often.  The bad guys always seemed smarter to me. One of the reasons Hacksaw lost so often was because he was so easily duped into making avoidable mistakes.

I don’t mean to be a Debbie Downer here. I’m glad the Osama is dead, too.
But there’s probably an endless line of jabronis waiting to take Osama
bin Laden’s place.  Let’s just hope the next time we don’t play so
willingly into our antagonist’s hands.  As a country, let’s not be the Hacksaws of the world.  We can be the good guys without being the imbeciles, too.

Positively Yours,

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