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tuesday

Growing up as an HIV-positive kid in the late ’80s was hard anywhere in the country. For Shawn Decker (make that Shawn Timothy Decker, “STD”), living in Waynesboro, Va., didn’t make things any easier. Diagnosed with hemophilia only 18 months after being born, Decker contracted HIV at 11 years old from a blood transfusion and was drummed out of school for his infection—only to be taken back in and subsequently ostracized in various manners for the rest of his school days. But that didn’t get young Shawn down—he quickly figured out how to turn his deadly infection lemons into…uh, deadly infection lemonade. For instance: Seventh-grade teachers seem not to care too much when their HIV-positive pupil racks up a record number of sick days. Later, the Make-a-Wish people got Decker an audience with his beloved Depeche Mode (“a couple of years before the lead singer, David Gahan, began his descent into heroin addiction”). What he didn’t do, at least at first, was become another Ryan White—the Indiana kid who became the sympathetic face of AIDS, appearing on Donahue and other TV programs. Instead, Decker just went on being a kid—a funny, good-natured, wrestling-and-porn-obsessed kid—as he recounts in his memoir, My Pet Virus: The True Story of a Rebel Without a Cure. These days, Decker’s a health educator in Charlottesville and a freelancer for POZ magazine. And in case you’re wondering, being a “positoid” isn’t necessarily bad for your sex life: Decker’s now married to a former beauty queen. Ask Decker what Ric Flair’s really like in person when he discusses and signs copies of his work at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 26, at Olsson’s Books & Records, 1307 19th St. NW. Free. (202) 785-1133. (Mike DeBonis)