Beth Stebner
May 04, 2015 2:31 pm

A progressive German lifestyle magazine is using the blood of three HIV+ individuals to print a special edition, all in an effort to hit stereotypes head on.

The publication, Vangardist magazine, combined the blood with ink to print 3,000 copies. The reason? It’s not a cheap ploy to sell magazines or to be in any way creepy, according to its editor, Julian Wiehl, it’s a way to confront the self.

“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?’ ” Wiehl told the Washington Post. “And the second question is, ‘Why would I touch it?’ or ‘Why wouldn’t I touch it?’ ”

According to Gay Star News the special edition magazine, with its blood-infused ink comes inside a plastic case and encourages readers to “break the seal and help break the stigma.”

Vangardist has released the issue as part of a new social media campaign, #HIVHeroes, which seeks to break stereotypes of the disease and support people who are HIV+.

The campaign was done in partnership with Swiss-based advertising agency Saatchi & Saatchi. Its creative director, Jason Romeyko, hopes it will shed light on the HIV/AIDS crisis still affecting millions.

“People feel that the problem is solved and feel nothing is happening,” he told ABC News, noting that people only seem to care about the disease on World AIDS Day.

Romeyko adds that there is no way the blood-ink isn’t safe. He told ABC News that the volunteers gave their blood at the University of Innsbruck in Austria as lawyers looked on. The blood was pasteurized as an added precaution.

Wiehl told Gay Star News that depression and a feeling of isolation are some of the biggest symptoms of being HIV+. The hope is that the act of breaking the seal covering the magazine, will bring readers one step closer to those with the disease — maybe, possibly, hopefully pushing some of that isolation and embarrassment to the sidelines. One of the blood donors, a straight man, asked to remain anonymous because of the very stigma surrounding HIV, Vangardist said. The other two donors were a straight single mother who contracted the disease from her ex-husband and a gay man.

Another hope of Vangardist is that by releasing this issue, people will examine their feelings about HIV and the 35 million people afflicted worldwide. That way, the next time we meet someone with HIV, perhaps our hardest internal questions will be answered, and that stigma will be one step closer to gone.

The magazines will be available throughout Austria, Germany and Switzerland, and an additional 15,000 copies have been printed – using only regular ink.

[Images via, via]

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