Utah AIDS Foundation Honors Difference Makers
“There are so many people who were so instrumental in the early days
of AIDS in particular who really made a difference,” said Stan Penfold, Utah AIDS Foundation Director.
Penfold says Wednesday night was about honoring four of them who made a difference here in Utah.
“Bruce Bastian, Dr. David Sundwall, Sarah McClellan from Northern Utah and Sue Yanik who is a nurse with the Valley Health Department,” Penfold said.
Sue Yanik began her work at the Salt Lake Valley Health Department in
the mid 1980’s. There she was assigned to work in the sexually transmitted disease clinic, and took patients with HIV under her wing.
“At first there was not much we could tell them. There was no
medication we could refer them to a doctor, and I thought, 'You know, there's got to be a better way. There's got to be something.' So I started talking to them about stress, what were there biggest fears, had they come out yet,” she said.
Yanik is now retired but she says working with patients diagnosed with HIV is her calling in life. Listen as she describes an encounter with a client ten years after his scare with HIV.
“There was a man in a restaurant where we were eating and I knew he looked familiar to me, and he asked the restaurant owner ‘is her name Sue?’and they said, yes, that's Sue Yanik And he said, 'She changed my life.' He was negative but he said I was the first straight person that had ever been nice to him, knowing that he was gay.”
Dr. David Sundwall, a Clinical Professor of Public Health at the University of Utah was also honored. As former Health staff director in the U.S. Senate Sundwall was in a position to take action when HIV first began popping up in the U.S.
“I was in a position where I could mobilize some federal attention to
this. We convened hearings in the U.S. Senate, had dramatic testimony
from leaders in public health and patients or victims of the virus,” he said.
Sarah Mcclellan and Bruce Bastian were also recognized. Mcclellan founded the Northern Utah Coalition in Ogden which offers walk-in appointments, outreach workers and support groups for those suffering from HIV.
Bastian, the co founder of Word Perfect, helped establish a trust helping people suffering from HIV and AIDS to stay in their homes.
The Utah AIDS Foundation estimates there are 3000 people living with HIV in Utah.