18 Jul 2014

More Than 100 AIDS Researchers and Advocates Perished on Downed Malaysian Jetliner

More than 100 AIDS experts and public health officials on their way to the International AIDS Conference in Australia were among those killed when a Malaysian jetliner was shot down over the Ukraine yesterday. Their deaths prompted an outpouring of grief from their colleagues.

Malaysia Airlines MH17

“The International AIDS Society today expresses its sincere sadness at receiving news that a number of colleagues and friends en route to attend the 20th International AIDS Conference taking place in Melbourne, Australia, were on board the Malaysia Airlines MH17 flight that has crashed over Ukraine earlier today,” the group's organizers said.

Joep Lange

Among the passengers was Glenn Thomas, a spokesman for the World Health Organization, and Joep Lange, an eminent HIV researcher from the Netherlands who was also the former president of the International AIDS society. Lange led a campaign to expand affordable care for HIV patients in impoverished regions. He is considered an icon in the AIDS medical community. “Joep was a giant in this field; a researcher who really ‘got it’ in terms of human rights, equity and justice. He was as much activist as researcher — and that is rare. Incredibly sad,” Mitchell Warren, an AIDS activist, told NBC News.


The exact number of individuals on flight MH17 who were heading to the conference is unknown, but Australian officials have said it's a “substantial number” including medical doctors, scientists and AIDS advocates. The event is set to host  about 14,000 delegates from around the world.

More @ Alternet