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Biskupski, City Council Honor Pioneers in HIV Care

Dan Weist Director of Communications, Salt Lake City Council
Mayor Jackie Biskupski with Dr. Kristen Ries and Maggie Snyder.

Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski recognized Women’s History Month Tuesday by honoring two women who cared for people with HIV/AIDS in Utah when other medical professionals turned them away.

Mayor Biskupski declared Tuesday, March 29th, “Dr. Kristen Ries and Maggie Snyder Day” in Salt Lake City. Ries and Snyder were among the first to provide care to HIV-Aids patients when HIV first spread throughout Utah in the early 1980’s.

“Maggie and Kristen brought dignity to individuals in their final days when the rest of society worked so hard to steal even that for them,” Biskupski said.

Salt Lake City Councilman Stan Penfold is executive director of the Utah Aids Foundation. He said at the height of the epidemic it was not uncommon for five clients to die in a week.

“How do you imagine, hazmat suits and food left by hospital workers in hallways because they were afraid?” Penfold said. “And families who abandoned their children out of fear.”

Dr. Kristen Ries came to Utah in 1981, the year aids was first described. Maggie Snyder came a year later to work alongside Ries as a physician assistant. Ries said it was serendipitous. 

“We happened to come to the right place at the right time, with the right training and education to take on things,” Ries said. “And I mean training and education formal and plus from our families and parents.”

The mayor and city council also recognized a joint resolution supporting the United Nations-sponsored Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.  

Whittney Evans grew up southern Ohio and has worked in public radio since 2005. She has a communications degree from Morehead State University in Morehead, Kentucky, where she learned the ropes of reporting, producing and hosting. Whittney moved to Utah in 2009 where she became a reporter, producer and morning host at KCPW. Her reporting ranges from the hyper-local issues affecting Salt Lake City residents, to state-wide issues of national interest. Outside of work, she enjoys playing the guitar and getting to know the breathtaking landscape of the Mountain West.
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