Improving Health
and Emotional Wellbeing

In 2008, DC Health, HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis, STD and TB Administration (HAHSTA) reported that many DC residents were not routinely tested for HIV by their healthcare providers. HAHSTA was looking for a strategy to encourage and empower DC residents to ask their provider for an HIV test.


In 2008, the city’s annual HIV/AIDS epidemiology update reported that by the end of 2007, more than 15,000 or three percent of adults in the District were living with HIV/AIDS.


HAHSTA partnered with Octane to reach those who self-identified as either a heterosexual African- American (man or woman) or as a gay man residing in Wards 1, 5, 6, 7, and 8 through the “Ask For the Test” campaign. Octane understood that informing DC residents of the need for HIV testing was not enough. There had to be a clear call to action that empowered residents to take charge of their health.

“Ask For The Test” became the core call-to-action for the HIV prevention message.

Key Findings

  • DC residents report they in the know about HIV/AIDS
  • 24% receive important information about HIV from their doctor
  • 30% said that the majority of their awareness came from traditional media campaigns


  • Motivate residents to learn the status for their own health
  • Inform residents of the importance of requesting an HIV test during their doctor visits
  • Motivate residents to learn their status for the people in their lives

The Creative

Octane used transit shelters, television, print ads, and environmental placements such as retail stores and bars to get the message out to DC residents. The message saturated the District, giving residents the support they needed to ask questions and find out what was right for them.

Octane developed a web presence for the campaign with Facebook and Twitter social media accounts, branded @DCTakesonHIV and a website

Over the years, the campaign has seen up to four different creative treatments, as graphic styles and community insights evolved. Throughout that time period the message has remained the same, “Ask For The Test.”

The End Result

The “Ask for the Test” campaign is housed under DC Health’s website. The website offers information about testing, local resources, and testing locations in the District.


“Ask for the Test” prompted a significant number of residents to be proactive about testing, especially if they had seen campaign materials on transit ads or on television. The campaign even achieved national coverage and national accolades for its contributions to HIV prevention in Washington, DC.


Gold Winner for Best Radio Campaign

2014 Multicultural Health National Marketing Awards


Gold Winner for Advertising

2013 MarCom Awards


Bronze Anvil Award for Website

2011 PRSA Awards

After about 5 years of the campaign in the DC marketplace, the “Ask for the Test” campaign saw great results city-wide.

0 %
of survey respondents said the campaign made them think about the risks of HIV.
0 %
said the campaign made them think about getting tested for HIV.
0 %
of the citywide sample recalled seeing “Ask For The Test” around DC.
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