Amongst the 289 people who perished aboard Malaysian MH17 yesterday were around 100 high profile HIV/AIDS researchers and activists.
Air traffic control lost contact with flight MH17, a Malaysian Boeing-777, at 14:15 GMT on Thursday 17th July 2014. The plane is believed to have been shot down by a Russian made BUK ground-to-air missile system.
On board the aircraft, flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, were 274 passengers and 15 crew – around 100 of those on board were HIV/AIDS researchers and activists en route to the AIDS 2014 conference in Melbourne, Australia. Flight MH17 was due to connect with MH129 arriving in Melbourne on Friday evening.
Whilst the organisers of the conference are still attempting to verify which of those registered for the conference were aboard MH17 unofficial figures have put the loss as high as 108 delegates.
Confirmed to have be lost are veteran HIV/AIDS researcher, former International AIDS Society president and father of five, Joep Lange. Also onboard was Glenn Thomas, a senior media advisor for the World Health Organisation.
UNAIDS executive director Michel Sidibe expressed his condolences:
— Michel Sidibé (@MichelSidibe) July 17, 2014
Alexander Pastoors, Chairman for the Dutch HIV Association, on the loss of his colleague Joep Lange, said:
Waking up to terrible news of the crash of Air Malaysia and death of valued colleagues of Soa Aids Nederland and professor Joep Lange #sad
— Alexander Pastoors (@AlexPastoorsHIV) July 17, 2014
The International AIDS Society has posted an update on its homepage, promising further information soon:
The International AIDS Society, convenors of the 20th International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2014), is continuing to work with the authorities to clarify how the tragic loss of Malaysian Airlines flight MH 17 impacts our conference delegates, our conference partners, and our community as a whole.
In recognition of our colleagues’ dedication to the fight against HIV/AIDS, the conference will go ahead as planned and will include opportunities to reflect and remember those we have lost.
The International AIDS Society will continue to provide updates as information becomes available.
beyondpositive would like to offer its condolences and to the family, friends and colleagues of those lost on board Malaysian MH17 at this difficult time. The world has lost some truly amazing and dedicated people.