Dr. Kristen Ries, an infectious disease specialist, arrived in Salt Lake City to begin her practice on June 5, 1981—the same day the CDC published its first report on the disease that would become known as AIDS—and she soon encountered her first patient with the disease. The city’s Mormon monoculture made addressing the disease especially difficult. Because of stigma and fear surrounding both AIDS and homosexuality, Ries, working tirelessly alongside her eventual life partner, physician assistant Maggie Snyder, was the only doctor in the state of Utah willing to treat people with HIV/AIDS during the crisis’ terrible early years.
Assisted by the nuns of the Holy Cross Hospital, Ries and Snyder cared for patients facing not only grave prognoses but also complete ostracism from their families, workplaces, and communities. People with HIV/AIDS, particularly in conservative Salt Lake City, were “the lepers of our time,” says Sister Bernadette Mulick, recalling that era. “The need was great.” For Ries and Snyder, meeting that need—providing care, comfort, and compassion to people with HIV/AIDS—became their life’s work.
Many documentaries about the AIDS crisis in the United States have focused on large cities with vocal populations of gay men. Quiet Heroes turns a lens on a less obvious location. In doing so, it tells a powerful, inspirational story about how one heroic doctor and a very small group of caregivers made a huge difference in a community and in thousands of lives.
— CHARLES PURDY
San Francisco AIDS Foundation
- Premiere Status: Bay Area