04 May 2015

What the F%$#ing F%$#?

I understand that HIV remains a major public health image, but this is nuts:

The newest battle against HIV/AIDS stigma is being waged in blood and ink.

This month, the small Austrian magazine Vangardist will release a special-edition issue printed entirely in ink that has been infused with HIV-positive blood, in an effort to force readers to confront — and break — taboos that persist around the virus. The magazine, which is marketed toward “progressive” urban young men, plans to release 3,000 print copies of the spring “Heroes of HIV” issue, a theme inspired by the three donors who contributed their blood to the project, as well as people living publicly with HIV.

“We believe that as a lifestyle magazine it is our responsibility to address the issues shaping society today,” Vangardist publisher Julian Wiehl said. “With 80 percent more confirmed cases of HIV being recorded in 2013 than 10 years previously, and an estimated 50 percent of HIV cases being detected late due to lack of testing caused by social stigma associated with the virus [sic]. This felt like a very relevant issue for us to focus on not just editorially but also from a broader communications standpoint.”

As Wiehl explained to the Washington Post, the print edition will be packaged in a sealed wrapper, so the reader must “break the seal to break the stigma.” While it is well-known that HIV can only be transmitted through direct contact with bodily fluids such as blood and semen, and there is no health or safety risk posed by handling the blood-infused ink, Vangardist hopes to make a statement that challenges the public. (The magazine did take extra measures to ensure the ink would be sterile, and autoclaved the donated blood before using it.)
 I have no words.


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