HIV-laced pages in magazine combat stigma

The means through which the ink was developed ensure that handling the magazine would carry no risk of infection and is ‘100 percent safe’

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An Austrian English-language magazine used ink infused with HIV positive blood in its spring edition, in a push to raise awareness of the infection that attacks your immune system, and devalue the stigma associated with it.

Teaming up with advertising agency Saatchi and Saatchi, men’s magazine Vangardist printed 3,000 copies of its latest issue using the ink.

In guidelines set out by Harvard University in the U.S. and Innsbruck University in Vienna, the ink was created in a way that would carry no risk of infection, and was “100 percent safe,” Saatchi & Saatchi said on their website.

Since the discovery of HIV, many of those living with the virus have found that they are shut out from society - largely because of a misinformed view that the virus is easily transmitted.

The move by Vangardist is aimed at addressing this social stigma, which leads to people failing to get tested, and ultimately bars an “effective management and ultimately the eradication of the virus.”

In incorporating the blood into the words, those behind the idea believe they are tackling the issue head on.

“We want to create a response in a heartbeat, by transforming the media into the very root of the stigma itself,” Jason Romeyko, Executive Creative Director of Saatchi & Saatchi Switzerland said.

“…By printing every word, line, picture and page of the magazine with blood from HIV+ people. By holding the issue, readers are immediately breaking the taboo,” he added.

There are delays in detecting almost half of all cases because of the lack of testing, as a result of the stigma linked to the virus, Julian Wiehl, Publisher and CEO of Vangardist said.

“This felt like a very relevant issue for us to focus on, not just editorially but also from a broader communications stand point,” he was quoted by the Saatchi & Saatchi website as saying.

The issue was made available online this week and has been on newsstands since April 28. The issue’s release comes two weeks before Europe’s largest charity event, the Life Ball.

Held annually since 1993 in the Austrian capital, the extravagant gala aims to raise awareness of AIDS and those affected by it.

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