By Richard Balagtas

“If you’re holding the ‘infected’ print edition in your hands right now, you’ll get into contact with HIV like never before…It will make you reflect on HIV and you will think differently afterward. Because now the issue is in your hands.” – Vangardist publisher and CEO, Julian Wiehl

If you were asked what exactly HIV was, would you know the answer? If you were asked how relevant HIV research is today, would you know?

Vienna-based magazine Vangardist is changing the way people see and interact with one of the world’s most infamous diseases – HIV. In order to bring more awareness to a disease that people no longer consider urgent, they have printed a special edition of their magazine: the artwork is laced with blood that’s HIV positive (but don’t worry – it’s safe to touch!). Yet, the very idea of being able to hold a disease in your hands in enough to get people interested and, probably, scared. But that’s the point: to generate conversation and to get people thinking.

The need to spread awareness of the severity of the disease is crucial. According to the World Health Organization, there has been an 80% increase in HIV cases over the last 10 years. The lack of conversation surrounding the issue undoubtedly contributed to the increase: “People just aren’t talking about [the diesease] anymore,” says Jason Romeyko, executive creative director of Saatchi & Saatchi Switzerland, the creator of the cover.

The campaign is truly powerful. Holding the magazine in your hands is like holding the disease. It becomes very personal very quickly and gets people involved at a biological level. Romeyko explained, “We wanted people to actually hold the magazine and just make the comparison – there’s nothing wrong with holding someone who’s HIV positive.”

Vangardist is printing 3000 copies of this special edition with the ink laced with HIV, and 15000 copies using regular ink. This issue will be available online for free, but a percentage of the proceeds from all print editions sold will be donated to the HIV Foundation. HIV/AIDS is the 6th leading cause of death in the world, and this magazine’s campaign should be a wakeup call for those of us who have forgotten the unfortuante reality that may people face today.

Read the full article here.