Publisher prints mag using HIV+ blood

Vangardist magazine and Saatchi & Saatchi Switzerland seek to tackle stigma surrounding the virus.

Vienna-based men's magazine Vangardist has printed its entire Spring issue using ink containing HIV-positive blood.

Part of a bold new campaign to reignite conversation about the virus, which has allegedly seen an 80 per cent increase in the last decade, the provocative edition comes sealed in a clear plastic pouch that represents the stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS.

"Make the comparison - there's nothing wrong with holding someone who's HIV positive," Jason Romeyko of Saatchi & Saatchi Switzerland, told CBS News

To create the controversial issue, three people living with HIV – all from very different backgrounds – donated blood for the project. The samples were pasteurised in a lab at the University of Innsbruck to prevent the virus from being transmitted, and mixed into a solution at a ratio of one part blood to 28 parts ink.

A total of 3,000 copies of the special edition of Vangardist were printed, with every word and image inside the magazine created using the unique ink.

Hands-on experience

Saatchi & Saatchi Switzerland, which worked closely on the campaign with Vangardist, stresses that handling the physical magazine "carries no risk of infection, and is 100 per cent safe".

However, the magazine reportedly had trouble finding a printer prepared to take on the job. Eventually the owner of the small shop that produced Vangardist's first-ever issue stepped up, choosing to do it himself rather than get his employees involved.

Image of the alternative cover, printed with traditional ink. Vangardist hopes to start a conversation about the stimatisation of HIV

Public reaction has been mixed, sparking debate, discussion and in many cases disgust – just take a look at the comments below CBS News' online overage.

But with HIV claiming up to 1.5 million lives every year, the entire point was to generate conversation.

"If you see the magazine ... the first question that comes to your mind is, 'Would I touch it? Would I take it in my hands?'" Julian Wiehl, co-publisher of Vangardist, said in an interview. "And the second question is, 'Why would I touch it?' or 'Why wouldn't I touch it?'"

According to Mashable, profits from the print issue – which is priced at €50 – will go to charities dedicated to tackling the stigma surrounding HIV. A number will be auctioned, and another 15,000 copies will be available printed in standard ink.

As the Washington Post reported, the edition can only be ordered online to avoid violating laws that govern transport of blood or blood products across borders.

Written in blood

Vangardist isn't the only publication to have recently used blood to highlight an important cause.

In honour of the 100th commemoration of the Armenian Genocide, Audio Kultur's AK12 issue was printed using blood donated by five Lebanese-Armenians as a "symbolic gesture of remembrance for the blood that was spilled by the Armenian people".

[Via IFL Science]

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Julia Sagar is a commissioning editor and writer for Creative Bloq, Computer Arts, net, 3D World and IFX magazines. Tweet her @JuliaSagar