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To Help Destigmatize HIV Victims, This Magazine Was Printed With Infected Blood

3,000 copies of the Vangardist‘s spring issue were printed in ink that had been mixed with HIV+ blood.

The latest cover of Vangardist Magazine, a progressive men’s publication, is bound to stand out at newsstands. “This Magazine Has Been Printed With The Blood of HIV+ People,” it reads, and it’s true. It has Over 3,000 copies of the spring issue have been printed with ink containing a small amount of infected blood, as an attempt to end the social stigma of HIV in Europe and abroad.

Designed with the help of Saatchi & Saatchi, the spring issue of Vangardist is timed to coincide with the Life Ball, the biggest AIDS and HIV charity event in Europe. According to the publisher and CEO of Vanguardist, Julian Wiehl, printing a copy of the magazine in blood seemed to be the most expedient way to bring attention to a social stigma around HIV that is just as strong today as it was 30 years ago.


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


The magazine is perfectly safe to handle. The ink is mixed at a ratio of 28 parts ito 1 part donated blood, donated to the Vangardist by three HIV+ individuals. The blending of ink to blood was overseen by doctors at Harvard University and Innsbruck University, who certified both before and after that there was no possible way HIV could be transmitted by the magazine. Which, even without their assurances, would be quite the long shot: HIV is very sensitive to changes in alkalinity, and can’t survive the pH level of ink.


Printing books in blood is nothing new, of course. Saddam Hussein famously commissioned a copy of the Q’uran written in over 50 pints of his own blood, and the ’70s rock band KISS famously used red ink mixed with their own hemoglobin to print the premier issue of their comic book back in 1977. But the spring issue of the Vangardist might be the first publication to tap blood-derived ink for a more noble purpose.

The spring issue of Vangardist shopped out to subscribers on April 28th, and will be available on newsstands or online starting next week.

Find out more about the latest issue of Vangardist here.

About the author

John Brownlee is a design writer who lives in Somerville, Massachusetts. You can email him at john.brownlee+fastco@gmail.com.

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