As part of an astringent campaign meant to raise awareness that HIV is far from gone from the face of the Earth, a magazine printed an issue with HIV positive blood mixed in with the ink.
The magazine is called Vangardist and it is a men’s publication based in Vienna. It usually has around 100,000 readers per month and this special issue was printed in 3,000 copies.
Firstly, it is very important to mention that the blood, donated by people living with HIV/AIDS who wanted to take part in this project, was pasteurized and therefore it is completely safe to touch the magazine. In order to present the readers with a choice, the magazine came completely wrapped in a clear plastic case with the words “Break the seal and help break the stigma” written on it.
Jason Romeyko, Executive Creative Director of Saatchi & Saatchi Switzerland, who created this cover for the project, said that it there is no chance of people getting infected with HIV by touching the cover because the virus dies outside the body after 30 minutes, information that was corroborated by the Center of Disease Control and Prevention. He explained that it is only a moral barrier that the readers will have to face and that this perfectly exemplifies how HIV positive people are treated by those around them.
“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 said.
Romeyko wants people to know that according to the World Health Organization, in the last ten years, an 80 percent increase in the number of new cases has been registered. He believes that this has happened because people have stopped talking about it.
He pointed out that HIV is still associated with the gay community and that not enough information is delivered to the heterosexual young people, who often get infected. Furthermore, he highlighted that in African countries, where HIV is viewed as an extremely present problem, the number of new cases is going down, while in the US, where people aren’t made attentive to the matter, the number of new cases is going up. And this is unacceptable!
As HIV/AIDS is still the sixth most common cause of death in the world, Romeyko feels that it is not enough to have a memorial day once a year and let the matter fall into silence, while 1.5 million people die every year from it.
Despite some AIDS activists and NGOs’ opinion that this approach might backfire and create panic among the magazine’s readers, making people even more scared of interacting with HIV positive people, Romeyko wanted his campaign to be as visible and gut-wrenching as possible and to make a lasting impression on people.
And it seems that the people from Vangardist saw eye to eye with him the matter. “If you’re holding the ‘infected’ print edition in your hands right now, you’ll get into contact with HIV like never before (…)Because now the issue is in your hands.”, wrote the magazine’s publisher and CEO, Julian Wiehl, in the opening pages of the issue.
This magazine is a symbol and the most important thing it wants to accomplish is to make people take it out of the plastic bag and touch it, thus accepting to face that HIV positive people are not monsters. Inside the magazine, readers will find several articles centered on storied of “HIV heroes” who are fighting the disease every day, and ultimately some pop-culture and fashion features.
Aside from the 3,000 HIV positive blood issues, an additional 15,000 regular ink copies are going to be issued. Some special issues are going to be auctioned so as to raise money for charity. Furthermore, readers of the online issue will be encouraged to donate to an HIV foundation, but it will remain free to read it on the internet.
Vangardist magazine printed an issue with HIV positive blood mixed with the ink in the hope that HIV awareness campaigns will be reprised in the US, bringing back into the light the fact that HIV is far from being handled and that it is time to bring down the myths behind the stigma put on HIV positive people.
Image Source: adweek.com
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