Austrian Publication ‘Vangardist’ Prints Special Copies Using HIV+ Blood Infused Ink

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Designed to coincide with the Life Ball, one of the world’s biggest AIDS charity events hosted annually in Vangardist’s hometown of Vienna, the magazine has printed 3,000 special copies of its spring edition, using HIV-infected blood in a quest to educate the public and eliminate misconceptions about HIV and AIDS.

Reports initially claimed just the provocative cover was printed using HIV-positive blood for ink, a design approach the magazine is stressing is perfectly safe to touch and hold while reading.Now that it has been published, it’s out in the open with the entire issue being printed with HIV-infected blood. 

The magazine is safe to handle, explained Romeyko. The HIV virus dies within 30 minutes of being taken out of a host. The donors’ blood was pasteurized, a heat process that assures the virus is neutralized and incapable of transmission, stated the magazine.

According to Jason Romeyko, global chief creative director at Saatchi & Saatchi,

the blood used as ink was donated by three HIV positive individuals – a gay man, a heterosexual man and a mother, ranging from ages 26 to 45 years.

“We wanted to take the image of HIV patients beyond the gay stereotype. Hence the combination of a gay man, a heterosexual man and a mother add a deeper dimension to this.” said Romeyko.

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The blood taken from the three donors was mixed together at the printers, and loaded into a device Wiehl described as an “infusion portioniser”. This allowed the fluid to be injected into the ink just before it was printed. “By injecting the blood from HIV positive people into the printing presses, we transformed the media into the root of the stigma itself,” said Romeyko. “Every word, line, picture and page is printed with the combination of blood and ink.

It was produced using a standard offset printer and recycled and CO2 neutral paper stock, with two thirds of the magazine printed with a standard finish and one third with a glossy finish.

It is packaged in a plastic wrapper for legal reasons, but this also serves to as an added dimension to the project, inviting readers to overcome their own prejudice when opening the sealed wrapper.

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"By adding a transparent re-sealable wrapper we added an additional moral dilemma,” Romeyko added. “Do you avoid the issue because of ignorance or fear? Or do you break the seal and physically take the issue (the cause and magazine) into your hands. That way you break the stigma and are part of a solution.”

This issue is definitely going to make it in every collectors checklist.

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