In an attempt to end social stigma surrounding HIV, an Austrian men’s magazine called Vangardist printed its entire spring issue using ink made from HIV-positive blood.
Employing a provocative approach, the magazine and advertising agency Saatchi & Saatchi hope to spread public awareness, end the stigma, and eliminate misconceptions about HIV and AIDS.
According the World Health Organization (WHO), there has been an 80% rise in the number of cases of HIV in the past 10 years.
Saatchi & Saatchi Switzerland executive creative director Jason Romeyko explained one of the reasons behind the alarming increase in the number of HIV victims.
“The reason why that’s happening is people just aren’t talking about it anymore,” Romeyko said.
Through this unique project, the magazine aims to trigger conversations about HIV.
Magazine Has No Risk of Infection
The ink was created using 28 parts ink and 1 part blood donated by three HIV-positive patients ranging from 26 to 45 years old. The blood was pasteurised to neutralise the virus and eliminate the possibility of transmission.
Moreover, the process was in accordance with strict safety controls in the US assuring readers that there is no risk of infection when they hold the magazine.
“We wanted people to actually hold the magazine and just make the comparison—there’s nothing wrong with holding someone who’s HIV positive,” Romeyko added.
Ending the Social Stigma on HIV
Previous studies have shown that eradicating the culture of prejudice towards HIV is crucial in eliminating the virus.
Health experts revealed that social stigma on the virus may prevent people from getting tested. Furthermore, HIV carriers choose not to reveal their true condition to their sexual partners resulting to further spread of the virus.
“ What’s the risk of someone contracting HIV by picking up a magazine [whose] ink is infused with HIV+ blood? None. And now … more people will learn this information and hopefully apply it to their everyday lives. We’re all in this together, reducing stigma one conversation at a time,” said Scott McPherson, founder of the HIV awareness group, the Stigma Project.
About 3,000 copies printed using blood-infused ink were released on May 7.