A magazine called Vangardist is seeking to draw attention to HIV and AIDS with a provocative cover that is printed with ink containing HIV-positive blood.
The special edition of the magazine features stories of “HIV heroes” at a time when the editors say too many people have grown complacent about the disease.
“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,” said Jason Romeyko, the Executive Creative Director of Saatchi & Saatchi Switzerland, who helped create the cover. “The reason why that’s happening is people just aren’t talking about it anymore.”
Romeyko told CBS News he hopes the magazine will “reignite these conversations” — and its stark cover certainly has people talking already.
Vangardist, which describes itself as a progressive men’s magazine, is based in Vienna and publishes in English and German. It claims a readership of 100,000 a month, mostly online. Just 3,000 copies of this special HIV+ edition were printed.
To create it, three people living with HIV donated blood for the project. Romeyko described them as “incredible individuals” with diverse backgrounds, and they tell their stories in the magazine. One is a 26-year-old gay man from Berlin who calls himself “one of the most normal guys on the planet.” One is a heterosexual man who wished to remain anonymous as he continues to struggle with his recent diagnosis. And one is a 45-year-old woman, a mother, who got infected 20 years ago by her then-husband who didn’t tell her he had HIV.
Though the idea of touching traces of HIV-positive blood may spark a visceral reaction of fear or revulsion, the magazine assures readers that the cover itself is “100% safe” to handle.
“Scientifically, the virus dies naturally outside the body. It takes about 30 minutes for it to decompose,” Romeyko said. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirms HIV cannot survive outside its host for long.
The three donors’ blood samples were taken to a lab at the University of Innsbruck where they were pasteurized, a heat process that assures the virus is neutralized and incapable of transmission.
From there, the blood was mixed into an ink solution for use in the printing press. But the magazine ran into some trouble finding a printer willing to do the job. It finally turned to a small print shop that had produced its very first issue, and the owner agreed to do it himself, not wanting to make his employees take part.
Everything about the cover is imbued with meaning, 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.”
For those who are still squeamish, the magazine comes sealed in a clear plastic pouch. “Break the seal and help break the stigma,” it says on the label.
“We decided to give people a choice,” Romeyko said, encouraging them to take an active role in confronting the issue.
But he realizes not everyone is ready for the hands-on experience: “I showed it to a client and she was too scared to pick it up.”
He also admits that some AIDS activist groups and NGOs (non-governmental organizations) the magazine consulted weren’t thrilled with the idea and seemed concerned that the magazine might set off a panic or backlash against people with HIV.
It’s a little too early to judge the public reaction, since the issue doesn’t hit newsstands till next week. But subscribers have received their copies and Romeyko says it’s already achieving its goal: “It’s generating conversation — conversations that need to be had.”
With HIV/AIDS still the sixth-leading cause of death worldwide, claiming 1.5 million lives each year, the editors felt it shouldn’t be treated as “old news” or relegated to just the occasional “awareness day” in the press.
In the opening pages of the magazine, Vangardist’s publisher and CEO, Julian Wiehl, writes, “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.”
Once you flip past the provocative cover, there are articles spotlighting “HIV heroes” fighting the stigma of the disease, along with a few avant-garde fashion and pop culture features.
The magazine will be available online for free, although the editors are asking readers to make a donation to an HIV foundation. A number of copies of the HIV+ special edition will be auctioned for charity, and another 15,000 copies will be available printed in regular ink.
Those behind it are pleased with their work. “I think the cause is right and we’ve treated this very sensitively. It makes you think. It’s very provocative, in a good way,” Romeyko said.
In a demonstration that raged for hours and turned violent Thursday, hundreds of protesters blocked streets and the light rail in Jerusalem, and marched on the prime minister’s home, alleging that racism played a part in acts of police brutality directed at Israelis of Ethiopian descent.
When the protesters, mostly from the Ethiopian community, tried to march on the Prime Minister’s Residence, they were kept at bay by police.
Three police officers were injured by rocks and bottles thrown by the protesters in the ensuing clashes, and as many as 13 demonstrators were wounded. Two were arrested.
Police used crowd control methods to block the protesters, including tear gas, stun grenades and fire hoses.
Some of the protesters alleged that the police used excessive force.
“We were attacked for no reason,” said Matan Admake from Yavne.
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat rushed to the scene to try to calm tempers. He attempted to reason with some of the activists. Asked to comment on the main TV news, he told a reporter, “Not now. Let’s listen to them,” referring to the protesters.
The demonstration came in the wake of video footage that emerged on Monday showing policemen beating an Ethiopian-born IDF soldier, who said later that he was the target of a racist attack.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on the protesters to avoid violence. “I strongly condemn the beating of the soldier from the Ethiopian community and those responsible will answer for it,” he said in a statement. “But at the same time, no one should take the law into their hands. Immigrants from Ethiopia and their families are dear to us, and the State of Israel is making great efforts to ease their integration.”
As many as 1,000 protesters, mostly of Ethiopian descent, blocked traffic and the light rail train on Route 1, one of the capital’s busiest arteries, while chanting against violence and racism, as the protest got under way in the afternoon.
Mounted police initially attempted to disperse them, but later allowed them to march. The atmosphere worsened and the clashes began when demonstrators headed up Agron Street toward the Prime Minister’s Residence in early evening; confrontations continued after nightfall.
“Apparently the streets of Israel must burn like they do in Baltimore, in order for someone to finally wake up. The apartheid regime is back, this time in 21st-century Israel,” Gadi Yevarkan, head of the Campaign for Equality for Ethiopian Jews, told Ynet.
“To see a soldier in uniform beaten by policemen in uniform is confirmation of official policy that allows police to beat blacks without having to be accountable to state laws,” he said.
Meeting with some of the leaders of the protest, Barkat underlined their right to protest, but noted that the demonstration was not pre-arranged and licensed as required by law.
The clip that emerged on Monday showed Ethiopian soldier Damas Pakada being attacked by two policemen the day before. Police said the second man was a volunteer policeman, and that he would no longer be allowed to serve with the police. He was arrested and held over allegations that he had attacked the police officers.
A spokesperson for the police said they would “act with determination against any party acting in violation of police orders, while endangering the police and public security, and disturbing public order.”
Earlier Thursday, Israel Police Chief Yohanan Danino met activists from the Ethiopian community, and said he would establish a special team to examine the community’s claims and formulate ways to deal with the problem, Ynet reported.
Danino said that the officer who was filmed beating Pakada would be expelled from the force, pending a hearing.
“There is no room for such officers in the Israel Police,” he said.
Yevarkan refused to attend the meeting with Danino, claiming police were “putting on a show for the media.”
According to Yevarkan, the protest came after years of neglect and racism. “Our younger generation is desperate and it will only get worse if the government doesn’t take action,” he said.
President Reuven Rivlin also addressed the footage of Pakada’s beating on Thursday, while hosting a delegation of students from Israel’s Ethiopian community as part of a seminar on education.
“We cannot sit back in the face of anger and shouting – incidents such as these must serve as a warning sign, and an opportunity to conduct some genuine and thorough introspection,” Rivlin told the students.
“The shock that we all felt when we saw those pictures – which I am pleased to say immediately led the Israel Police to carry out a thorough and transparent investigation into the incident and its awful outcome – is still deeply felt.”
The incident caught on tape took place in Holon, south of Tel Aviv, on Sunday evening, where police were cordoning off a street due to a suspicious object.
“I feel terrible, and humiliated. This is a disgrace to the State of Israel,” Pakada told Channel 2 Monday. “It’s because of [my] skin color,” he said.
After the footage was obtained by Pakada’s family, he was released from custody, with police promising to investigate the matter.
Pakada, a 21-year-old orphan who emigrated from Ethiopia with his four siblings seven years ago, told Channel 10 that he was riding his bicycle when he noticed the two officers.
He said that he asked them what they were up to and one of them confronted him and pushed him off his bike, saying, “I can do whatever I want.”
He said that the officer threatened to shoot him in the head, and that they only let up after he backed away and lifted a rock.
Several police officers then detained the soldier for alleged assault, although the footage showed that Pakada did not attack them with the rock in his hand.
They must either live in misery or risk death by leaving a country that is in the grip of a highly repressive regime.
Horror has been expressed at the latest migrant drowning catastrophe in the Mediterranean. Little has been said, however, about Eritrea. But 22% of all people entering Italy by boat in 2014 were from the former Italian country, according to the United Nations refugee agency. After Syrians, they are the second-most common nationality to undertake these journeys. Many who died last week were from there.
So why is it so rarely discussed?
The answer is essentially the problem. Eritrea is without Western allies and far away. It is also in the grip of a highly repressive regime. This week, it was named the most censored country in the world by the Committee to Protect Journalists, beating North Korea, which is in second place. Reporters without Borders has called it the world’s most dangerous country for journalists. Nobody talks about Eritrea because nobody (that is, Westerners) goes there.
In 2009, I travelled there undercover with cameraman Scott Corben. We remain the only independent journalists to have visited the country in more than 10 years.
There we witnessed a system that was exerting total control over its citizens. It was difficult to engage anybody in conversation. Everyone believed they were under surveillance, creating a state of constant anxiety. Communications were tightly controlled. Just three roads were in use and extensive documentation was required to travel. There were constant military checks.
It is one of the most expensive countries in the world to buy petrol. Even maps are largely prohibited. At the time, Eritreans had to seek permission from a committee to obtain a cellphone.
Dissent is forbidden. It is thought there are more than 800 prisons spread around the country. Some are shipping containers in the desert. Torture is widespread.
The media is an arm of the government. All critical journalists have been imprisoned or killed. The news we saw entailed segments of the population praising Eritrea and denouncing its enemies. There were long broadcasts of soldiers moving in formation to local pop music.
Despite government declarations to the contrary, there was obvious poverty and food shortages. One of those we interviewed was sharing a toilet with 20 families and living on slightly less than a dollar a day.
Most people I met were highly educated but had no prospects after university. Instead, there is conscription for adult men and unmarried women until the age of 50. Bullying and sexual abuse are common within the army.
The country feels as if it’s at war and that’s the justification for what goes on there. After decades of conflict, Eritrea won independence from Ethiopia in 1993. Its leader, Isaias Afewerki, has consolidated his power by insisting another war is imminent. As a government supporter told me, sacrifices have to be made when “your existence is under threat”.
He also claimed that nobody would come to Eritrea’s aid if Ethiopia attacked it again. On this, regime critics agree. Ethiopia is a key Western ally in the Horn of Africa and Eritrea has compounded matters by forming alliances with al-Shabab in Somalia. Eritreans are thus faced with a terrible choice. They must either live in misery or risk death by leaving.
I met a number of people who were preparing to go. Despite a shoot-to-kill policy on the border, thousands still leave each month. Their journey is incredibly dangerous. Kidnapping is increasingly common en route to Israel. Or there’s the Mediterranean option. For the survivors, there is huge anxiety about those left behind. Relatives of escapees are sometimes arrested. The government also has spies within the expatriate community.
For us, of course, it was different. We, too, were followed and getting our film footage out was frightening, but at least we could leave. The Eritrean response to our films was immense. Though the links kept disappearing, they had hundreds of thousands of views on YouTube. There were also a large number of death threats directed at me. Complaints were sent to Al Jazeera’s English service. But there was little reaction from Western audiences.
All kinds of solutions to the Mediterranean crisis are now being considered, including better regulation for asylum seekers. Many agree that the causes of migration must also be examined. I think wanting to know about what is happening in Eritrea is an important first step.
Source: Guardian News & Media http://munkhafadat.com/
Two dead migrants who were among the 24 unidentified bodies that were brought to Malta after the migrant boat disaster last month, have been “tentatively” identified.
Some 800 migrants are feared to have perished when their boat capsized. Only 28 survivors and 24 corpses were recovered.
Pathologist David Grima, who conducted autopsies on the bodies, said the health authorities had found identity documents of two of the migrants among their personal belongings.
The items, which included passport-style photographs, resembled Eritrean identity cards.
Dr Grima said the information had been passed on to the police, who are in touch with international law enforcement agencies to try to verify the documents’ authenticity. Once this is done, efforts will be made to contact the migrants’ families.
He said some migrants in Malta had already made contact with the hospital and visited the morgue on the day a funeral. They asked to see the bodies, as they were expecting loved ones to make the crossing. Their request, however, was turned down, as the bodies had already been sealed for burial when the request was made. DNA samples have been collected.
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