Jun 17, 2019 | Updated: 11:38 AM EDT

HIV & AIDS Awareness In-Print—Not In A Blood Bag

May 02, 2015 04:23 PM EDT


In the age of the slow death of the print industry, book authors and magazines must become a bit more avant garde and push their boundaries if they expect to survive. But with a bit of blood and creative marketing one German magazine may keep its face in the headlines, and its reader's aware in the process.

In a joint collaboration with marketing firm Saatchi & Saatchi, German lifestyle magazine Vangardist decided to print its newest issue in infected blood. Coinciding with the famous Life Ball in Vienna which raises funds for HIV/AIDS issues, the magazine wanted to develop an "HIV+" issue that centered around the lives of those suffering with HIV, research currently in development, and the many global issues that face the pandemic and the millions of people infected each and every day. 

"There's been an 80 percent increase in HIV in the last 10 years-that's according to the World Health Organization-and that's pretty shocking" Executive Creative Director for Saatchi & Saatchi Switzerland, Jason Romeyko says. "The reason why that's happening is people just aren't talking about it anymore."

So to spark the conversation, and feature "HIV heroes" at a time when many people are complacent on the life-threatening viral infection, they gathered HIV infected blood from three special donors, heat-killed the virus, then used it in the ink that the magazine is printed in. 

"It's generating conversation" Romeyko says, "conversations that need to be had."

With such a stigma around the virus, many readers were too scared initially to pick it up, so Vangardist printed additional copies not with the tints of the added blood, though the magazine assures its readers that the HIV+ cover is "100% safe" to handle-and there's a lot of science behind why. Utilizing a process of pasteurization to heat-kill the virus, which naturally dies outside of its host in only a matter of hours, then adding it to the ink proved to be difficult but effective in ensuring readers' safety. But in spite of that, the magazine found it very difficult who was willing to work with the blood additive.

But with the print issue in hand, as a successful product of ingenious collaboration, Vangardist and its team believe that they are making a change. And with concrete testimonies proving the major issues related to the infection, it's hard to wash your hands of powerful arguments posed in the HIV+ issue.

"If you're holding the 'infected' print edition in your hands right now, you'll get into contact with HIV like never before" Vangardist Publisher and CEO, Julian Wiehl says. "It will make you reflect on HIV and you will think differently afterward. Because now the issue is in your hands."

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