Speaking

Shawn and Gwenn smiling at an ice cream counter
Interested in having Shawn and Gwenn speak? Be sure to fill out a contact form on the Contact page! Watch them in action here.

A Boy, A Girl, A Virus and the Relationship That Happened Anyway
Best known for this engaging program, Shawn and Gwenn share how they became involved in HIV education, and use their relationship as a platform to discuss the important issue of sexual health and personal responsibility.

Shawn, a hemophiliac, acquired HIV through tainted blood products at age 7. Much like Ryan White, Shawn was expelled by his school in rural Virginia when his status became known. He grew up surrounded by fear and ignorance.

As the years passed, the possibility of a normal life became less remote, and Shawn began confronting some of the same issues that “regular” teenagers confront, wondering where he fit into the grand scheme of coupling.

Soon after high school, Shawn became a nationally recognized AIDS activist, infusing a great sense of humor with prevention and awareness issues. He wrote columns for national magazines about life with HIV. He was invited to the White House. He became a spokesman for HIV infected youth.

Would a girl want him, knowing he was HIV positive?

Gwenn Barringer answered that question. The two met through their AIDS activist activities. She fell in love with him in spite of the virus, and in spite of his love for professional wrestling. Five years after meeting, Shawn and Gwenn were married in October 2004.

In this program they address issues like safer sex, intimacy, communication between partners and the medical realities of HIV infection. Best of all, they approach audiences with warmth, openness, lots of humor and a personal connection to the issue that is unforgettable. Students, by and large, have become desensitized to the issues surrounding HIV and safe sex.

Shawn and Gwenn challenge students to open their minds and confront their images of people infected and affected by not only HIV, but other sexually transmitted infections as well.

My Pet Virus
In 1987, Shawn was diagnosed with HIV and given two years to live. Today, he is alive and happily married.

With humor, Shawn candidly discusses an adolescence spent living with a misunderstood medical condition, and how he went from a decade of not speaking about his illness to educating millions of people by sharing his story.

In this program, Shawn reads selections from his hit memoir of the same title. He also discusses important social issues ranging from discrimination to healthy relationships. By sharing his own triumphs and mishaps, Decker shows students the importance of making smart decisions in their own lives. He gives a firsthand example of how one individual can not only overcome tremendous odds, but thrive in the face of adversity.

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