Since 2000, Shawn and Gwenn have been educating together, using their relationship as a way to talk about the issues of sexual health. By combining humor and candor, they’ve successfully engaged tens-of-thousands of college students, and have shared their story with millions of people through Cosmopolitan Magazine, MTV, BBC and HBO films.
Shawn met Gwenn. They fell in love. Shawn has HIV. Gwenn doesn’t. They keep it that way.
When Shawn and Gwenn met, they never thought their relationship would be an open book or a tool for HIV education. But that’s exactly what happened when friends encouraged the couple to go public with their healthy attitude towards sexual responsibility. For the last several years, they have spoken on hundreds of campuses, bringing humor and honesty to the sensitive subject of sexual health. Shawn discuses his many years of living with HIV, having been infected as a child, and the two explain how Gwenn remains HIV negative in their relationship.
A good sense of humor is crucial. Although HIV education isn’t normally associated with getting laughs, Shawn and Gwenn have opened eyes and ears with their laid back approach to discussing sex and deadly serious medical issues. By setting people at ease, they are able to make a genuine connection and relate to a wide variety of audiences.
Ultimately, theirs is a timely, educational love story on the timeless topic of sex.
About Gwenn Barringer
As an undergraduate at Wittenberg University, a young woman with HIV spoke at Gwenn’s sorority house. Inspired, Gwenn began to speak with her friends about sexual health and then taking a class on HIV/AIDS. While attending James Madison University’s graduate program, Gwenn volunteered for an AIDS Service Organization and obtained her Master’s degree. Her thesis examined the likelihood of condom usage in long and short-term relationships among college-aged women.
About Shawn Decker
Infected with HIV as a child through the contaminated blood products used to treat his hemophilia, Shawn learned early in life about discrimination. Within a month of testing positive for the virus, he was kicked out of the 6th grade. By all accounts, he wasn’t expected to live five years. After beating the odds and graduating from high school, Shawn opened up about his life, creating one of the first “poz blogs”, describing his life as a twenty-year old dating with HIV. He penned a column for Poz Magazine, entitled “Positoid”, and his first book, My Pet Virus: The True Story of a Rebel Without a Cure, was published by the Penguin Group in 2006.