HIV/AIDS prevention through education by Bob Bowers-youth HIV/AIDS educators, activism, advocacy and awareness-San Francisco, California and the United States
HIV/AIDS prevention through education-AIDS activists, youth hiv/aids educators and long-term survivors-Bob Bowers-San Francisco, California-United States

youth HIV AIDS prevention through education in high schools, universities, college and jails-San Francisco, California-united states

AIDS/HIV prevention through education, awareness in San Francisco, California-AIDS activist Bob Bowers-activism, advocacy-One Tough Pirate

Youth HIV/AIDS prevention through education in schools, universities, colleges and jails-AIDS activists, long-term HIV/AIDS survivors-San Francisco, California-United States-Live to tell the tale!



"When heavily tattooed Bob Bowers shows up at a high school and announces that his nickname is Pirate, he definitely gets attention from the teens he’s talking to. He knows that his tough-guy appearance wins him respect that a middle-aged guy in a suit with a Powerpoint presentation won’t earn.

~ Theresa Hogue



Contact page - OTP - Madison, Wisconsin


To contact Bob Bowers aka One Tough Pirate, and/or One Tough Pirate Productions, Inc.:


Our mailing address:

One Tough Pirate Productions, Inc.
2370 Market Street
Suite 141
San Francisco, California 94114-1575




Bob is a powerful and motivating public speaker on HIV/AIDS. Students are asked to nominate the best panel of the semester, and consistently Bob is voted the ‘best’ by students. Students listen and he is able to sustain their attention throughout the presentation. Mr. Bowers is very knowledgeable about HIV/AIDS and presents accurate information. In addition, he is warm and earns the respect of students.


~ Patricia A. Tackett, Ph.D.
San Diego State University

California State University - Cal State Stanislaus World AIDS Day youth HIV/AIDS education awareness universities SF CA


World AIDS Day Guest Speakers at California State University Stanislaus youth HIV/AIDS education awareness

World AIDS Day guest speaker, Bob Bowers, with students from Cal State University Stanislaus
Youth need the TRUTH about HIV/AIDS! Education and awareness WAD2014.


World AIDS Day 2014 at California State University - Stanislaus


After LIVING with HIV/AIDS for 32 years, it was such a surreal honor to be part of my 1st ever human red ribbon at California State Stanislaus' World AIDS Day 2014 awareness ceremonies. OTP Productions, and the Ribbon Warrior MC, were so honored to present at your University! Eternal gratitude, my fellow WARRIORS! THANKS for all that you do! A special THANKS to the University President, Dr. Scheely, for stopping by to show the students support and gratitude, and for helping to complete this treasure of an AIDS awareness red ribbon!




Bob and students from Lodi High School after speaking to the student body about HIV/AIDS prevention and living with the disease
  Bob Bowers, a.k.a. One Tough Pirate, is a youth HIV/AIDS educator providing prevention through education in the United States. Bob has been living with HIV/AIDS for 32 years and has made it his life-mission to educate youth as well as adults about the disease. Bob is very outspoken about his diagnosis and his life experiences. To broaden his message of hope and compassion, he founded HIVictorious, Inc. in 2005, and One Tough Pirate Productions, Inc. in 2014. As an HIV positive speaker, Bob knows first hand the importance of putting a face to the disease in hopes of reducing AIDS stigma. He is far from the 'stereotypical' image of a person with AIDS, thus having a profound and lasting impact on his audiences. He speaks to middle schools, high schools, colleges, universities, jails, prisons, and various community-based organizations. Mr. Bowers is also a leading and well respected advocate and AIDS activist based in San Francisco, California. Bob is living proof that there is nothing impossible in this world if you apply yourself physically, spiritually and emotionally. Bob uses his life experiences as an activist and advocate to address broader social issues such as racism and homophobia that continue to drive the AIDS epidemic. In 2006, Bob created the youth HIV/AIDS awareness poster campaign, "What if it Were You?" It is his mission to tackle this very stigma while maintaining every day awareness of HIV/AIDS in our schools and communities. Please take some time to visit the amazing AIDS awareness posters that the high school students have created. Bob has a can-do approach and believes in unity in the fight against HIV/AIDS. Appreciating that, with the political and collective will, we can and will end the scourge of AIDS on our planet. Mr. Bowers is a champion for hope and survival despite some of the difficult circumstances that we ALL face in life.    

Youth HIV/AIDS educator Bob Bowers was a guest speaker for World AIDS Day events at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Thank you to ALL for your generosity of spirit!

Dear Friends,

We were very fortunate to have Bob Bowers come to speak in our HIV/AIDS classes at Oregon State University. Bob is a tremendously knowledgeable and passionate educator and advocate. I don't even know how to put into words how incredible it was to meet Bob and hear him talk to the classes. He truly speaks from his heart and shares his knowledge, challenges and experiences in a way that really affects the students. There is no doubt he truly impacted the students, and helped many to really think about the decisions they make. He has a true ability to raise awareness and he puts a real face to the issues. He is a true inspiration and has definitely touched the lives of many students during his trip to Oregon.

Warm Regards,

~ Karen Elliott, PhD
Oregon State University



Dear Friends:

There are no words to describe the impact that Bob Bowers has had on my students and me. He is a very courageous man with an extremely powerful life or death message. I have invited him to come and talk to our freshman class for the past two years and will continue to have him back in the future. I could easily go on and on about the importance of having a person of his caliber come and talk to your school or group, however I feel hearing it from the students makes it more relevant. After his presentation, the students are asked to write a reflection on what they thought of Bob’s message.
Here is what some of them said:

Bob was an amazing speaker. He is doing one of the greatest things possible. He is sharing a story to help fight a pandemic. He made me not only realize to be a fighter for my own battles, but to use my own struggles and experiences to help others.”

His story not only informed me on what the effects of HIV/AIDS can do to a person physically, but emotionally and spiritually as well. His speech was enlightening and it showed me the importance of keeping the quality of life as high as possible in addition to informing me about HIV/AIDS and other STIs.”

I was very inspired by Bob Bowers and what he has gone through. I thought he was a great speaker and really connected on every human level. He was not just giving facts but really how it changes
One Tough Pirate Productions San Francisco California-AIDS activists, youth HIV/AIDS education, advocacy, long-term survivor-Bob Bowers every aspect of your life when you get HIV. “

He wasn’t just informative, he was real. He was very straightforward with the information and his problem. He didn’t sugarcoat anything. It was refreshing that he didn’t try to hide his emotions in front of the group. This was probably one of the best presentations I have seen.”

As you can tell from the statements above, Bob has left lasting impressions on my students. He has multiplied the value of our unit on HIV/AIDS by sharing his personal experiences in a way that reaches each and EVERY student. As Bob states, he is a man with a gift to share, and it is my hope that all people will continue to allow Bob to share his gift. It is with great respect and honor that I recommend Bob Bowers as one of the top educators for HIV/AIDS.


Mekel Wiederholt Meier
Edgewood High School
Madison, Wisconsin




I have been an HIV positive speaker for many years now. Whether I'm speaking in middle schools or universities, I'm sincerely humbled by and thankful for the love and respect that the students have shown me. The youth I speak with appreciate hearing about HIV/AIDS from someone who actually lives with the disease and who doesn't "sugar coat" facts about HIV/AIDS, as well other STIs. It's good to be a Pirate!



Your presentation in my health class today was great!

~ Marina
Our friend Bob Bowers is doing a LOT to spread the awareness of HIV/AIDS! He's a friend to the community and a friend to MATC. Please do your part to help his endless efforts and show your support for such a strong and inspiring individual!

~ Clare
The man is simply Unstoppable.. Whatever our burdens, or ailments might be, Bob's passion for life reminds us all, that the light at the end of the tunnel… is not necessarily a Train...

~ Roberto Angelis
Bob, I was just on your website and I must say I loved it. You are a real inspiration to people with or with out HIV/AIDS. I commend you for all you do.

~ Liz
I just want to say thank you for being such an amazing inspiration to so many people, including myself. You are an amazing human being and this world is extremely blessed for you to be a part of it. Thank you.

~ Donnie
AIDS activist Bob Bowers and Youth HIV/AIDS education-OTP social networking sites-San Francisco, California-United States

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youth hiv/aids prevention through comprehensive sex education in schools in Wisconsin and the United States
Youth HIV/AIDS prevention through education. Comprehensive sex education saves lives!!

I have nothing but respect for Bob Bowers. I feel honored to have met this great man in person and hear him tell his testimony. I have never encountered such a down-to-earth presenter that had the ability to grasp and hold his audience's attention. This man is truly gifted and anything I can do to help insure that he and others like himself, afflicted with HIV/AIDS have the resources available to continue to encourage research and education in HIV and AIDS awareness. God Bless you, Bob you are a true inspiration.

-Amy Bunn

youth HIV/AIDS prevention through education in high schools, colleges, jails and universities-by Bob Bowers Da Pirate and students from East High School in Madison, Wisconsin-United States


Youth HIV/AIDS educator Bob Bowers a.k.a. One Tough Pirate with some AWESOME students from
Memorial & East High Schools in Madison, Wisconsin



I enjoyed Bob's presentation very much because of his friendly manner, persuasive style and interesting stories about how he has dealt with this disease. Bob inspired me because he was very brave about dealing with the issue and showed me that if you truly believe in yourself and are willing to commit to a plan, then you can accomplish almost anything.

~ Alex S.



Let's Kick (ASS) AIDS Survivor Syndrome NLTHASAD Healing Wounded AIDS Warriors

Beyond honored and blessed to have participated in the first ever,
National Long-term Survivors Awareness Day (NLTHASAD) in San Francisco, California




HIV/AIDS long-term survivors, Bob Bowers, and Co-Founder Tez Anderson in San Francisco for the 1st ever, National HIV/AIDS Long-term Survivors Awareness Day. Please take the time to learn more and get involved! Find them here on Facebook too



Dear Bob,

You not only supplied us with valuable information, you supplied us with inspiration and I am so very happy to know that there are positive people such as yourself that are spreading such important messages in this world. Not since reading The Diary of Anne Frank as a young girl has one person's life story touched such a heartstrings in me and inspired me to enjoy life to it's fullest. I'll be sure and come back and visit the web page often so I can stay updated on the life of Da Pirate. Take care and bless you!

Very Sincerely,



Youth HIV/AIDS prevention through education and awareness in schools, universities, colleges and jails
in California and the United States



I'm glad to see that you are so positive with everything! You are a great inspiration to all that have gotten the chance to know you. Live life, embrace it, and love it no matter what. Be strong, and keep your spirit free of worry and doubt. I have faith you will be ok in all outcomes of your doctor visits!! Take care, and know that many are thinking of you and keeping you in their thoughts and prayers!!

~ Jamie



HIV/AIDS awareness educational promotional videos One Tough Pirate Bob Bowers aids survivor



Dear Bob,

Some people think that a hero is someone like a firefighter, soldier or a sports star. Someone who is brave,  honest and invincible. After listening to you speak the other day, I would say the true hero is you. You are  brave because you can say what you feel and express your emotions in front of 100's of people. Living with AIDS for 23 years makes you invincible and for that, I give you my utmost respect and thanks. I never thought that someone could change my outlook of life in just one hour. Out of all the lectures and speeches I've listened to in my life, yours was by far the best. You give people a glimpse into the real world of a person living with AIDS and you definitely got through to us. You break the stereotypical image of a person with AIDS. You didn't want to tell us what to do, which made us instantly like you. Someone who has the ability to make a group of people laugh, cry, and think, has an amazing talent. I wish I knew the words to say how much I appreciate you coming to to speak. I wish you the best of luck on the rest of your journey through life. If I could achieve just a fraction of what you have done in my life, I could die happy. But for now, we both know who the hero is.

Bailey S.




If you have not witnessed the Golden Gate Bridge from the Marin Headlands, RUN THERE NOW! Couldn't ask for a better view of the ocean and the San Francisco Bay Area! I spent a good part of my World AIDS Day here honoring my friends, and reflecting on the many years that have passed with yet no cure or vaccine. I still miss them terribly, and I pray for a cure daily! This is the 25th year of World AIDS Day and the 32nd year of HIV/AIDS! CURE HIV & END AIDS!
RIP, Angels! You will never be forgotten!



Yo keep up the great work
wish u the best. you are a huge force almost unreal and inspire all those people that need help. u need to be recognized more worldwide if possible. with more people like you the world would be better place-cya

~ Amyr





One Tough Pirate speaking at the Orpheum Theatre


Youth HIV/AIDS educator, Bob Bowers, speaking at the Orpheum Theatre in Madison, Wisconsin

Thank you. You have done an amazing job of of turning lemons into lemonade. U have taken ur mistakes and misfortune and accepted it and used your experiences to educate our generation to ensure that we r not faced with the same difficulties that u did. So I just wanted to say thank you. U gave an engaging and informational life lesson that I will never forget.

~ Emiliano



Anonymous and One Tough Pirate at the 2014 How Weird Street Faire in San Francisco, California. Great times and music!



All I can say is WOW!! You have definitely impressed me. I know the world needs more compassionate people like yourself. There is a quote from a spiritual leader Moses Brings Plenty of the Lakota Nation. "This world is filled humans, but there are only a handful of human beings." You are truly a human being.




Youth HIV/AIDS educator Bob Bowers with University of Wisconsin-Madison students from ELLAA


Bob Bowers is in-your-face muscular.

He's tattooed from neck to ankle and silver hoops dangle from pierced ears.

Photographs in his East Side Madison apartment show him clutching women by their curves or straddling a Harley-Davidson, bear-brown eyes crinkled in a grin.

Bowers looks like a pirate who eats small children, as one buddy, a Los Angeles police officer, once put it.

Beefy and heterosexual, he defies stereotypes of a man infected for 21 years with human immunodeficiency virus, much less a sensitive and passionate advocate for HIV and AIDS education.

Bowers, 41, has pared his life down to those two essentials: Staying healthy and reaching out.

ACT II AIDS ride organizers invited Bowers to speak at today's opening ceremony as well as at the closing ceremony on Aug. 7.

"I'm the Mother Teresa of HIV," Bowers said in his raspy voice. "I'm spreading the word but not making any money.";

Bowers is part of a pandemic that has infected 38 million people and killed more than 20 million people worldwide. Nearly 1 million Americans are infected with HIV.

In Wisconsin, more than 8,400 people have contracted HIV -- 5,500 of them developed AIDS -- since 1982.


At a recent speaking engagement, summer campers at Jefferson Middle School first notice Bowers' tattoos and muscles. But it's his sensitivity and blunt delivery that get his point across.

Over the scraping of chairs and murmuring, an AIDS Network staff person gives his AIDS/HIV tutorial.

But once Bowers starts talking -- covering topics most adults talk around -- the teens stop fidgeting and even shush each other.

"I got HIV from using a needle one time. One time," he tells them, brown eyes full of tears as he holds up his index finger. He points next to his pelvis. "I was thinking with Mr. Twinkie instead of my brain."

For 40 minutes, he talks about monogamy, virginity, peer pressure and condoms, using terms not often heard in school counselors' offices.

"Using condoms means you are having safer sex, not safe sex," Bowers says. "A condom can break. ... Hey, man, you can get stuff that makes AIDS look pretty."

He warns girls that boys will say anything to convince them to have sex without a condom, mentioning lines older women have probably heard but that tender girls might gobble up.

"Does it hurt?" one boy asks about AIDS. The kids also question him about drugs, death, myths and anal sex. They want to know how people reacted to his HIV. He answers them all.

"There are no stupid questions," he says repeatedly.

Living with AIDS

Since his diagnosis, Bowers has been in the hospital numerous times, watched friends die and watched his 11-year marriage flourish and then die.

His tattoos tell a story.

In 1990, he got his first one, an eagle, just because he wanted one. Subsequent tattoos have more meaning.

"Courage" inside a heart on his arm marks his 15th year of survival. His 17th year is represented by the Japanese symbol for "warrior" on his lower arm. A mako shark on his left arm pays homage to one of his 40 friends who have had AIDS and died.

"The next (tattoo) is going to ... be a phoenix," Bowers said. "It symbolizes ... my willingness to never give up and the beauty of life."

Bowers contracted the virus in 1983 when he shared a needle to shoot up crystal methamphetamine, a pure form of speed, with a girlfriend and another couple in a Hollywood hotel. He was 19.

"I (injected drugs) one time due to peer pressure and experimentation," he said. "I couldn't believe that was all it took."

Swollen glands and flu symptoms sent him to a clinic a year later. Doctors told Bowers, then a clean-cut body builder, he had AIDS-related complex -- now called HIV. He was among the first 100 clients at the AIDS Project Los Angeles. A year after his HIV diagnosis, he developed AIDS.

"I went back two or three times and got re-tested," he said. "I didn't look the part and I didn't feel the part. ... I never imagined in my wildest dreams I was dying of something."

Initially he thought it was the end of a life that had already seen a lot of suffering.

"I don't think people realize the magnitude about the length of survival and all the hills and valleys I've travailed to get here," Bowers said.

He asked questions, participated in surveys and got involved with HIV activist organizations. He learned he didn't have to live the rest of his life alone.

No woman has ever said she didn't want to be with him because of his status, but he admits it's a complication.

"It's like having a third person in a relationship. ... I'm always afraid I would possibly infect that person, and there's a part of me that feels tainted or dirty," Bowers said.

Living for connections

In Wisconsin, where nearly 60 percent of AIDS cases stem from two men having sex, Bowers puts a new face on advocacy, AIDS Network caseworker Mary Vasquez said.

"HIV in the U.S. is primarily a disease of homosexual men," said longtime friend Howard Jacobs, who contracted the virus as a teen in New York having sex with a man. "Bob has the ability to bust that stereotype. It's a very, very powerful thing."

Bowers puts that and his positive energy to good use.

He talks to schools and other youth support organizations, often working with AIDS Network staff.

"Over the years, AIDS groups (on the West Coast) have become corporate giants, a very cold machine, so to speak, where there's locked doors, security guards," he said. "AIDS Network has been a lifesaver and when I speak for them I say how grateful I am to them. They are compassionate to their commitment and although they're well-established, it's still very grassroots."

Bowers spends Tuesdays talking to small groups of inmates at the Rock County Jail with AIDS Network staff. His heterosexuality helps alleviate discomfort among the men when it comes to discussing HIV, he said. Women tend to open up more quickly and ask questions.

Living so close to death has made him more spiritual, more inclined to forge real connections with people.

"When I really talk real with somebody, that's when I know I'm glad to be alive," he said.

Bowers still cries over stories people tell him. One juvenile offender told of an uncle who died on the porch to which his family relegated him after he contracted the virus.

"Dying on your porch," he said. "I can't believe people still do that."

Bowers' efforts extend into cyberspace via his Web site, When he's not feeling well, it's the people who reach out to him that help him stay positive.

"Bob is a champion and a voice for the underdog," Jacobs said. "He's not afraid to tell what his life is like and what he needs to survive. Madison is lucky because he can relate that to legislators."

Bowers said he's connecting with Madison, not just the HIV-positive community.

"I love it here," he said. "It reminds me a lot of Portland (Ore., near where he grew up). It's not as wild and crazy as Bob Bowers-Wisconsin youth hiv/aids educators, prevention through education-long-term AIDS survivorsLos Angeles. I can become involved more and still take care of myself."

Struggling to survive

A big part of Bowers' story are the drugs helping him live. They're also the worst part of survival.

He lists medications like he's talking about pop stars. He's familiar with them all.

In 1989 he began taking AZT. The resulting stomach pain curled him into a ball.

Then came protease inhibitors and combination therapy or drug "cocktails," which is like being on chemotherapy.

A documentary, "The Fire Within," by Leanne Whitney followed Bowers through 1999.

The film shows him fighting bouts of vomiting which left him weak and moaning on the shoulder of his petite former wife, Shawn.

"I don't want to puke anymore," he said in the film. "I'd rather die than keep taking this (stuff)."

His body no longer makes its own testosterone and his thyroid doesn't work, so he takes drugs to replace their functions. One HIV drug elevates his cholesterol, so he takes another to control it. One drug damaged his heart. Another put him in a wheelchair for months with nerve damage.

One HIV drug, which he still takes, can give him diarrhea without warning.

Over time, his virus has become resistant to most drugs. "Until last year, I had no treatment options left," Bowers said. "I was doing non-traditional combinations on a wing and a prayer -- sort of the anything-is-better-than-nothing therapy."

For some reason, it's working. His virus is at an undetectable level in blood samples.

He takes about 30 drugs a day in two doses. He hurries them down in two or three swallows, punctuated by a gulp of water. He injects testosterone into his thigh once a week.

He'll continue this combination until his virus learns to fight it. Then he'll try the new drugs on the market.

"I'm trying to get as much life out of this drug as I can," he said.

His t-cell count has been as low as 106 -- below 200 is full-blown AIDS. It's now 540, so his current status is "AIDS asymptomatic." He'll always have AIDS, but he's free of AIDS-related symptoms.

Through it all, Bowers has been his own advocate, having doctors change his cocktail until he's taking a minimal number of drugs with the least side effects.

"I'm not OK with just being alive," he said. "I want more."

Death When asked about death, Bowers first talks about suicide, not death from AIDS-related illness.

Almost half of Bowers' 40 or so friends who have died with AIDS committed some form of suicide -- either giving up on medications or taking action to end their life.

"My greatest accomplishment is survival in general," he said. "I'm committed. I'm not going to take the easy way out."

His longevity struck him on his 35th birthday, the age at which his mother died of breast cancer when he was 9.

He had been sure he'd die before turning 30. "That was prior to AZT, so 35 just was not going to happen," he said. "Thirty-five was just, like, wow. It took things to a deeper level spirituality."

Survival has meant 20 years of medications and illness, of watching new acquaintances react to his HIV status, of friends dying, and of people greeting him by asking "How are you feeling?"

But mostly, his life's a blessing.

"That's why my speaking is so emotional," Bowers said. "I'm out there way beyond my time. I've seen miracle after miracle after miracle. Too many to count. ... And I've survived."

~Lisa Schuetz Wisconsin State Journal

You can read more about Da Pirate and view news videos here: "IN DA NEWS"

Bob Bowers a.k.a. "One Tough Pirate" speaking with the University of Wisconsin-Madison
Student Global AIDS Campaign chapter about HIV/AIDS education, prevention and awareness
and experiences with advocating for the disease


youth hiv/aids education, prevention in high schools in wisconsin and the united states-youth hiv/aids educator bob bowers at edgewood high school in madison, wisconsin


Youth HIV/AIDS educator Bob Bowers at Edgewood High School in Madison, Wisconsin-GO CRUSADERS!

I just wanted to let you know you are an amazing person! my true hero and I look up to you so much! Keep it real man and spread the awareness!

~ Sara

Youth HIV/AIDS education at La Follette High School in Madison, Wisconsin


Youth HIV/AIDS educator Bob Bowers with students from La Follette High School in Madison, Wisconsin

The Fire Within-Feature length documentary film on HIV/AIDS survivor Bob Bowers-Rent it on NetFlix


AIDS documentaries/documentary films/movies on AIDS survivor Bob Bowers

Click to purchase the DVD from August Moon Entertainment


HIV positive speaker and AIDS activist Bob Bowers also known as "One Tough Pirate" has been and surviving HIV/AIDS for 32 years. Bob started as a youth HIV/AIDS educator  with peer education programs in Los Angeles shortly after his diagnosis. To broaden his personal message of prevention through education, hope and awareness of the disease, Bob founded the nonprofit HIV/AIDS educational organization, HIVictorious, Inc. in 2005. One Tough Pirate Productions, Inc., addresses youth HIV/AIDS education and prevention and provides AIDS awareness throughout San Francisco, California Bay Area, Oregon, and the United States via Bob's public speaking and it's AIDS awareness poster contest, "What if it Were You?" Mr. Bowers is a long-term survivor of HIV/AIDS, and someone who has lost dozen of friends to AIDS, Bob is wholeheartedly committed to educating today's youth and young adults, about the realities of HIV/AIDS as well as living with AIDS long-term. Mr. Bowers is a champion for hope and survival despite some of the difficult circumstances that we ALL face in life.

 "Compassion is our cure." ~Bob Bowers

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HIV/AIDS prevention through education-AIDS activists, long-term survivors and youth HIV/AIDS educators-Bob Bowers One Tough Pirate-San Francisco, California-United States