MADISON (WKOW) -- A Madison man infected with HIV spends his day delivering a powerful message about AIDS to students across the country.
Bob Bowers is the head of HIVictorious.
He's dedicated his life to educating others about the virus and helping prevent the disease from spreading.
Joe La Barberra shows us how he really is making a difference.
Bob Bowers shared a needle more than 23 years ago. His life changed forever.
Bob was one of the first 14,000 people in the United States to be diagnosed with HIV.
This is Bob Bowers today. Of the original 14,000 diagnosed with aids -- only 138 remain alive.
Bob dedicates his life to aids education and prevention.
Teri Parris Ford invites bob to her classrom at Memorial High School to share his life experience and his story with her students.
"Just his persona is not what you would think of somebody with AIDS. He's this big strong guy who's really cool, has all these tattoo and you don't look at him and think. Oh, AIDS patient," Parris Ford says.
Mekel Wiederholt Meier is a teacher at Edgewood High School. She knows Bowers has her students' attention from the moment he begins speaking.
"Complete and utter silence," Wiederholt Meier says. "You can hear a pin drop and essentially right from the beginning he has them captured."
And after delivering his message, everyone wants a picture and an email address.
Bob's making a difference by making it real. It's not just a book factor anymore, it's a human factor.
Bowers came to Madison in 2004.
"In hopes that not only eventually incorporating and founding HIVictorious which I did, but of truly having a sense of community and making a difference and Madison has truly allowed me that and then some," Bowers says.
One way he's doing that is by running a poster contest for students. Winners end up on billboards and elsewhere as part of his "What If It Were You?" campaign. Even Mayor Cieslewicz is in one of Bowers's online videos.
He delivers a powerful message that's getting through to young people. When most would fight this kind of battle privately, Bowers battles it publicly. There's a big reason for that.
"Truly knowing and getting to hear first hand that I'm making a difference in my community. And there is no greater reward than that," Bowers says.
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