(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Today, Mayor Vincent C. Gray and District officials will mark World AIDS Day with a number of events and observations – including the expansion of the city’s “Ask for the Test” campaign intended to increase HIV/AIDS awareness and testing among District residents.
Mayor Gray will also observe the day by volunteering his time at Food & Friends, a District community-service organization that provides meals and groceries to people living with AIDS; attending a candlelight vigil in Dupont Circle hosted by the AIDS service organization Whitman-Walker Health; and issuing a proclamation declaring it “World AIDS Day 2011” in the District.
“The District has an unacceptably high rate of HIV infection, and my administration is making a priority of expanding our fight against HIV and AIDS,” Mayor Gray said. “World AIDS Day is a moment for memorializing those who have died of AIDS-related illnesses over the last 30 years. But it’s also a moment for looking toward the future – and that’s exactly what we’re doing with this exciting new media partnership encouraging District residents to ask for HIV testing as part of their regular health-care routine.”
The “Ask for the Test” expansion involves a partnership between the D.C. Department of Health (DOH) and two local Radio One properties, WKYS 93.9-FM and WMMJ 102.3-FM. The initiative is intended to create HIV/AIDS awareness and aims to test over 1,200 District residents.
News of the collaboration between the city and the two stations arrives just as the District has released new data showing a steady increase in HIV/AIDS tests over the past several years as a result of previous “Ask for the Test” initiatives. The District has successfully offered 122,356 publicly supported HIV tests from October 1, 2010 to September 30, 2011 -- an increase from 110,000 tests in 2011 and triple the 43,000 tests the city supported in 2007.
“This exciting partnership with WKYS and WMMJ radio will encourage more residents to ask for the test from their doctors or HIV testing sites located throughout the District,” Mayor Gray said.
The “Ask for the Test Campaign” will also feature outreach activities. It is scheduled to kick off today and wrap up at the end of the December with a concert at the 9:30 Club that will feature Raheem Devaughn, Chuck Brown and other celebrities. DOH is currently working with community organization partners to provide concert tickets for people who get tested. Admission to the free concert will only be offered to people who took an HIV test.
“Ask for the Test” advertising will run on Metro buses, Washington Post Express, Facebook and other high-traffic websites from December 2011 through June 2012.
For more information on testing locations and concert-ticket eligibility,