John Bowens created a tool, in the form of a book, titled Tropical Illusions, targeting the urban, hip hop, the streets and the most at risk of HIV infections. The Act Against AIDS Leadership Initiative states that among African Americans more than a third of new HIV infections each year occur among young people aged 13-29. The lifetime risk of becoming infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is one in 16 for Black males and one in 32 for females. Discussing and educating the younger population on the perils of HIV/AIDS and the necessity of getting tested often elude organizations and parents.
Tropical Illusions, is a love story, a murder story, but more importantly an AIDS/HIV story about a stripper named Tropical and a formerly monogamous, before taking a bite of the apple, man. The man, Jeff, is diagnosed with AIDS and informs his lady who responds with revenge for all men. Written in explicit street language, slang and Ebonics, some chapters can be useful tools for erotic exchange between couples and also contains valuable information about sexually transmitted diseases. A reader said the book definitely makes you visualize, it’s a teaser and a page turner. “I couldn’t put it down. But, the tragic ironic ending should be enough to make everybody get an AIDS/HIV test.”
“Tropical Illusions is written in teens’ and young adults’ lingo. They hear way worse in rap songs, videos, on buses, at school and read in some other books. I just wanted to find a way to grab their attention and then educate them about risky behavior, the effects and encourage everyone to get tested,” said Bowens.
Bowens served 11 years, drug related, in a federal prison and during that time a friend of his died of AIDS which prompted him to start writing and he wrote six novels. He founded his own publishing company based in Charlotte, Step Ya Game Up Publishing, with the mission to provide inner-city stories that inspire readers to take action, spread awareness and fight illiteracy. and fight illiteracy.