Central Alberta AIDS Network Society held its first Tweet-up on Thursday to raise awareness on World AIDS Day.
CAANS opened its doors to give tours of its facility and connected through Twitter, an Internet social networking service.
“It’s about meeting people differently and having some cool conversations,” said network executive director Jennifer Vanderschaeghe on Friday.
Conversations spread even farther as tweets were passed along on Twitter to people who CAANS doesn’t usually get to talk to about HIV, she said.
In 2010, a total of 192 people in Alberta tested positive for HIV compared to 219 in 2009.
In Central Alberta, 12 people tested positive for HIV in 2010. In both Calgary and Edmonton, 78 people tested positive.
“It doesn’t mean that there’s less or more people living with HIV in Central Alberta than anywhere else. Twenty-seven per cent of people living with HIV in Canada don’t know they have HIV so we really need people to test for HIV and know their status.”
Vanderschaeghe said she expects the rate of HIV infection to increase significantly because safer sex and drug use is still not promoted in the prison system and Alberta’s health-care system continues to fail some people.
“Accessing the health system continues to be problematic for people who use drugs and for people who are marginalized. Every month we see people who should go to the hospital but won’t because of how they’ve been treated in the past.”
In September as part of its safer injection program, CAANS gave out more syringes than ever before — 20,655.
A total of 14,600 syringes were distributed in September 2010.