Poet RJ Arkhipov uses his own blood as ink in protest at the UK’s ban on gay men donating blood. In an experiment with help from a trusted medical student friend, RJ Arkhipov drew blood to use in an ink pen to write poems because the government does not let him use it otherwise. In the UK, gay men are forbidden from donating blood for three months after any sexual encounter. This was only changed from one year in late 2017. There are no such limits for straight people who may have unprotected sex, for example, and transmit serious diseases like HIV to one another, and they are allowed to donate blood. Gay men are not, though they can have safe sex, be on treatment like PrEP or keep monogamous relationships with a healthy man. RJ says that the reaction on what he does was not always positive. “People take this very immediate stance when they see blood, they are disgusted by it they are very disturbed by it. I was very interested in this and during my research for the book I wanted to understand why humans have such an abject reaction to blood. Blood can mean many different things for many different people but we all seem to have the same reaction when it’s outside the body,” he said.