Magazine printed with HIV-positive blood

With the aim of ending the social stigma about HIV, a German magazine has been printed with ink infused with HIV-positive blood.

Written in HIV-positive blood

Saatchi & Saatchi Switzerland, in partnership with Vangardist magazine, a leading German men’s monthly, has invited its readers to take a hands-on approach to end the social stigma surrounding HIV by printing a special edition using ink infused with HIV-positive blood.

The magazine, which has been produced to coincide with one of the biggest annual AIDS charity events in the world, Life Ball – which takes place at Vienna City Hall on the 16th of May in Vangardist’s home town of Vienna – aims to help affected people in an unconventional way and to fight against the taboo status of HIV/AIDS in society.

Risky reading

Three individuals with the virus donated blood for the project and the 3 000 copies of the magazine were wrapped in plastic with a powerful message instructing readers to, ‘Break the seal, help break the stigma.’ 

While the magazine has been produced according to the most stringent controls and using processes developed according to guidelines established by Harvard and Innsbruck University, ensuring that the handling of a physical copy of the magazines carries no risk of infection, and is 100 percent safe; the debate and discussion around the magazine and the issue it highlights has already been significant.

“This is truly a ‘nothing is impossible’ story – one we have been passionate about for a long time,” explained Jason Romeyko, Executive Creative Director of Saatchi & Saatchi Switzerland.

“When Vangardist approached us to help them raise awareness of this important cause around Life Ball in Vienna, we knew we had met a brave client,” he says. “With this unique project, we want to create a response in a heartbeat by transforming the media into the very root of the stigma itself – by printing every word, line, picture and page of the magazine with blood from HIV+ people.”

Sixth largest cause of death in the world

Romeyko says that, despite 30 years of campaigning, activism and research, HIV remains the sixth biggest cause of death in the world. “Yet for many people the virus is seen as ‘old news’, with discussion and debate relegated to just one or two days a-year when key communities and organisations around the world force the issue back onto the news agenda,” he says. “By holding the issue, readers are immediately breaking the taboo.”

With NGOs and governments alike all acknowledging that the social stigma surrounding the disease remains one of the key factors preventing effective management, and ultimately the eradication of the virus, Vangardist believes it is essential that conversations around this topic are reignited.

Commenting on the attention being generated around the magazine, and the rationale behind the campaign, Julian Wiehl, Publisher and CEO of Vangardist said, “The editorial team at Vangardist is committed to dealing with a wide variety of topics affecting our readers. We believe that as a lifestyle magazine it is our responsibility to address the issues shaping society today.”

Wiehl explains, “With 80 percent more confirmed cases of HIV being recorded in 2013 than 10 years previously, and an estimated 50 percent of HIV cases being detected late due to lack of testing caused by social stigma associated with the virus.”

“This felt like a very relevant issue for us to focus on not just editorially but also from a broader communications stand point,” he says.

The magazine has been available to subscribers from the 28th April, and will be on news stands and online from this week.  In addition, the Facebook page aims to be one of the most widely visited and ‘liked’ HIV-related pages on Facebook, demonstrating to the world that a community of people for whom the HIV virus carries no social stigma exists.



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